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For Te’o, draft stock could hinge on how he handles story


Apart from the fact that the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend (or is it dead fake girlfriend?) story provides layers of confusion and intrigue regarding the role of Te’o (if any) in the ruse, his stunning, chronic inability to become suspicious if he wasn’t in on it, and the inexplicable failure of the media to have even the most basic level of curiosity about a story that in hindsight had plenty of holes and inconsistencies is the reality that the situation can have a negative impact on the player’s draft stock.

As one league source with extensive knowledge of the pre-draft process told PFT when the news first broke, “It could get ugly.”  Another current NFL decision-maker said that the situation is “not helpful” to Te’o.  Others we have contacted apparently are still too shocked by the situation to even begin to process what it all means.

The reality is that, moving forward, the impact of this event on Te’o’s draft stock will be driven in large part by how he deals with it moving forward.  Despite the Texans’ insistence that they opted not to make Reggie Bush the first pick in the 2006 draft for football reasons, the reality (as we heard time and again) was that the organization became uncomfortable with the manner in which Bush handled questions about an eleventh-hour story regarding free rent received by his family from folks in San Diego who wanted to represent Bush in the NFL.

While plenty of teams have drafted plenty of guys who have done plenty of bad things, most employers don’t react well to applicants whom they believe to be lying to their faces.  If Te’o comes across that way in pre-draft interviews, it will not help him.  At all.

If a private investigation firm hired by Notre Dame was able to fairly quickly piece together what transpired, any and every NFL team with any interest in Te’o will be able to do the same thing.  The teams who are considering drafting him will know the answer to the questions before the questions are asked.  That’s why, above all else, Te’o needs to tell the complete and total truth.

From the perspective of the public, which won’t have access to the investigative reports, it’s even more important that Te’o be perceived as telling the truth.  Some folks are skillful liars.  Others are horrible truth-tellers, displaying many of the signs of dishonesty (e.g., shifty eyes, red blotches on the face and neck, stuttering, stammering) simply because of the stress inherent to the situation.

Unfortunately for Te’o, the “say as little as possible” option no longer exists.  Two years ago, when Jets coach Rex Ryan was confronted with bizarre foot-fetish videos (and related online content that never really got much attention), he called it a personal matter, he refused to talk about it, and it went away quickly because he gave the media nothing else to discuss or to explore, like an explanation that seemed a bit implausible or confusing.

In this case, Notre Dame quickly issued a statement painting Te’o as the victim, Te’o did the same, and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick framed at a press conference the issue that will become the fulcrum for those who are trying to determine whether Te’o was involved in the hoax:  the Clintonesque interpretation of the word “met.”  Swarbrick explained that Te’o uses the word “met” in this context to refer only to online meetings.  The various reports and accounts regarding their relationship suggest that there were multiple in-person meetings.  Whether and to what extent Te’o provides a persuasive explanation on this point will go a long way toward shaping the perception of whether he’s telling the truth.

Either way, it’s too late to go silent.  Swarbrick has said Te’o will speak.  How, where, and when Te’o talks — and what he says and how he says it — will determine whether and to what extent the average fan believes him.  What Te’o says behind closed doors with any interested NFL teams will ultimately influence the round in which he’s drafted.

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59 Responses to “For Te’o, draft stock could hinge on how he handles story”
  1. rboutote says: Jan 17, 2013 9:52 AM

    Ridiculous. Can’t understand for the life of me why this would “ultimately determine what round he’s drafted in” This kind of thing happens to plenty of people who try online dating.. I’m pretty sure there’s TV shows about it. It is definitely embarrassing and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to this, but I can’t imagine it would affect his draft stock THAT drastically. The only thing that affected his draft stock that much IMO was that game against Alabama.

  2. j0esixpack says: Jan 17, 2013 9:52 AM

    He should be punished by being forced to play for the Jets.

    While some have speculated that this may all have been a cover to hide his sexual orientation, seems to me that whether he’s gay or not, that’s the best shot at a plausible apology he has going for him at this point.

    As for me, I’d like my donation to the Leukemia Society made in Lennay’s memory to go to a foundation that helps fake people survive fake diseases. Every year 10 billion people die of fake diseases. It’s heartbreaking and we need to find a cure.

  3. raiderufan says: Jan 17, 2013 9:53 AM

    Today is a huge day for Manti. He better have answers and reasons and humility or he’s gonna look EXTREMELY bad….alot of the story, hell most, of the story still has massive holes that are much easier to fill by assuming he was in on it than it is to believe he was completely fooled. This would be an example of gullible to the highest degree and I think I’d rather have a guy that got stealing computers and admitted it or something of that nature than a guy who fell so hard for something like this.

    This is the weirdest story I’ve heard in a long long time.

  4. iluvbears says: Jan 17, 2013 9:54 AM

    Hopefully this drops Te’o to the Vikings at #23. Would be a great fit with the rest of the Golden Domers.

  5. wayne1693 says: Jan 17, 2013 9:55 AM

    He better come 100% clean with this immediately…because what is out there now is ridiculous, with more holes in it than than a beehive!

  6. jaltreality says: Jan 17, 2013 9:56 AM

    Look, I think this is a really, really weird story, and is fascinating in how bizarre and sort of mysterious it is.

    But affect his draft stock? Plenty of guys taken in the first round had/have way worse personal problems than this. Dez Bryant comes to mind. Te’o might be a little weird (might), but he’s still a fantastic player.

  7. whatnojets says: Jan 17, 2013 9:56 AM

    I had to re-read the articel five times because by the time I got finsihed I forgot what I previously read

  8. football025 says: Jan 17, 2013 9:58 AM

    so is notre dame going to get in trouble for covering it up

  9. thekiy says: Jan 17, 2013 9:58 AM

    Why would anyone trust an investigator that UND hired? They are trying to cover up as much as Te’o is.

    I firmly believe that Te’o is gay and this was all a cover story so no one had to wonder why he wasn’t dating a girl on campus.

    Te’o, come out and be the first openly gay NFL player. You could win back a lot of respect if you did.

  10. Steeley McBeam says: Jan 17, 2013 9:59 AM

    Serious question… Is it better for him in a football sense if he lies and says this was an exclusively online relationship with a girl or if he comes out and says its a real-life relationship with a guy?

  11. bucrightoff says: Jan 17, 2013 10:00 AM

    Let’s be real, he’s gonna drop a few rounds, Belichick is gonna take him and make him a great linebacker, and we’ll bow down some more and kiss the rings.

  12. mikea311 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:02 AM

    His draft stock already fell when he proved he couldn’t handle the speed of superior talent in the BCS game

  13. nmrdr795 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:04 AM

    Dont rush to judgment. Let the full story happen. Some of these athletes are pretty naive. I dont think it will affect hist draft status in anyway. To me he is a 2nd rounder and im an nd fan. But i still hope he s not in on it

  14. fwippel says: Jan 17, 2013 10:07 AM

    Strange story indeed. One has to wonder about this guy’s personal stability if he was in on the ruse. At minimum it sounds like he was at least not honest about meeting her.

    As for his draft stock, well, “caveat emptor”. Hey, what’s more disturbing? Ryan Leaf stopping off in Las Vegas on his way to San Diego after being selected #2 in the draft, or this fiasco? Unfortunately, this will speak to his character, and one has to wonder if it wasn’t intended to garner votes for the Heisman trophy.

  15. mazblast says: Jan 17, 2013 10:08 AM

    Not one mention of how much time he spent on January 7th on the ground, looking up at Alabama offensive linemen and running backs. Personal issues and possible weirdness aside (the kind no Notre Dame player has ever had, of course), the fact that he has been wildly overrated and got his butt kicked on the biggest stage in college ball is why his draft stock is falling.

    It’s one thing to put up “great statistics” against the likes of Purdue, Pitt, and Navy, with a generous assist from the ND media machine and national writers and broadcasters who are on the side of someone with a great personal story. It’s another to get ground into the turf by players who are the closest you’ll see to NFL caliber in college ball.

  16. chattanola says: Jan 17, 2013 10:09 AM

    Whatever the truth is in this matter, Te’o has demonstrated that he is a capable and cool liar. Sadly, that is what people will think of him in every interview he does and every statement he makes from this day forward.

  17. stull60060 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:09 AM

    I never heard of catfishing until yesterday. I can’t believe anyone would fall in love with someone they talk to on line. But I hear it does happen these days. Hell, I can’t believe women correspond with prison inmates they’ve never met and end up marrying them. But they do. As corny as this whole thing sounds I believe Manti was hoaxed. He has nothing to gain from being involved in such a ruse. The people who think he was involved are Notre Dame haters or Christian haters. You know the kind. Whenever a practicing Christian or Mormon makes a mistake they’re vilified for it because some how others think that religious people imply that they are perfect. The not so religious enjoy it when the so called perfect are knocked down a peg. The fact is practicing Catholics or Mormons don’t say they’re perfect. They just try to be. More than I can say for a lot of people.
    And by the way. This will not affect Manti’s draft status. His 40 time and pro day will have more to do with that.

  18. cags777 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:10 AM

    Character and performance at the BCS game are enough for his draft stock to drop. Right now, he has a credibility problem. If his story is true, why would the NFL take a chance on someone who’s gullible and doesn’t show instinct on the field?

  19. crazybeardedjack says: Jan 17, 2013 10:11 AM

    Te’o was in on it for the hype. His father gave an interview in October in which he said the “girlfriend” had been to their house with Manti. Manti obviously has some issues, or someone close to him does thinking they could use this to help him garner attention and potentially win a Heisman. Guess what? It all worked because the national media didn’t bother to check anything out.

    Now it’s time for him to pay the piper. He has two options – he can go the Lance Armstrong route and deny it all, only to attract more media attention trying to prove his lies, or he can come clean and take the hit that’s going to come with it.

  20. wewantmoretebowandfavrearticles says: Jan 17, 2013 10:14 AM

    Belichick has gotten a little too creative in tanking draft stocks… I can’t believe he would invent a woman just to do this to get Te’o.

  21. aboveaveragejoe11 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:15 AM

    Did you actually re-read that first sentence/paragraph and conclude that it was readable, easily understandable and well-constructed? I would’ve flunked 9th grade English if I ever submitted a jumbled mess of a sentence like that.

  22. killitandeatit says: Jan 17, 2013 10:16 AM

    Notre Dame’s spin machine on high and is starting to break down. There seems to be a nexus of the powerful Notre Dame propaganda Department meets illusionary girlfriend tragic tale of their hyped Heisman candidate .This goes along with the illusionary National Championship team who were indeed a media and cyber space creation. We all witnessed what happened when the myth of Notre Dame actually had to play a real team. We have all been duped and some serious questions need to be answered.

  23. Spencer says: Jan 17, 2013 10:16 AM

    He’s already digging the hole deeper by pretending he’s an innocent victim. He better admit the truth now and salvage what he can. Taking responsibility is the only way out.

  24. tomtravis76 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:18 AM

    He should just announce he is Gay and all of this will go away. He will reverse his fortune so fast, he will beome the most famous athlete in the world. If he was able to lie about a girlfriend why not tell everyone you have a boyfriend to make millions upon millions?

  25. phillylawhopeful says: Jan 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    The “he is a victim” garbage touted by Notre Dame and Te’o is just that…a stinky, wet, hot pile of refuse. The talking on the phone, the promise to play while on “her” deathbed, the meeting in Hawai’i, etc. These aren’t conjecture – they’re things he and others around him said occurred.

    The question is: should it reflect on his character/personality that he lied about having a dying (dead) girlfriend? I mean, we’ve all lied about a dead relative to extract sympathy and enhance our position in our daily lives…right?

    Oh wait.

  26. aceinthehole12 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    I find it funny that in a league of headcases, murderers, rapists, drug abusers etc..that THIS would affect someone’s career lol.

  27. scoops1 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    Johnny Football can teach him a thing or 2 bout picking up girls

  28. fdgalvan says: Jan 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    Jeff Ireland will ask Te’o if his fake girlfriend was a prostitute.

  29. shinnbone says: Jan 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    There is something missing here and I’m starting to think that there may be something to the “Gay” rumors? Think about it can he really say he’s gay while attending Notre Dame? A Catholic University? Until he speaks the rumors are going to be all over the place. How much you wanna bet that if he went to USC that his girlfriend would have attended to Notre Dame?

  30. buffalose says: Jan 17, 2013 10:21 AM

    Story does not matter, either way hes a late teen early 20 pick. Teams will look over this, and no surprise if ND boosters helped this all happen for pub.
    But, Te’o is over hyped, solid player but not as good as kuechly

  31. 3yardsndust says: Jan 17, 2013 10:21 AM

    So the point was to explain why he didn’t want to date girls at Notre Dame, right? Like, oh, I have a girlfriend, but she lives in Canada?

  32. kelsey412 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:24 AM

    Oh great. He will drop down to patriots. Well that is just so marvelous

  33. jmikeh73 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:25 AM

    There are really three options for what is going on here:
    1. the guy is mentally ill
    2. the guy is blindly self-absorbed and did this to perpetuate some myth about his college career
    3. the guy is gay
    To me, his best option is #3, although in the NFL, that’s hardly the easiest option. If it ends up being #1, he becomes undraftable. If it ends up being #2, he’s no different than most elite athletes.

  34. rosmith51 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:26 AM

    He claimed he talked to her for hours at a time on his phone.

    Should be a simple matter of showing the phone records. Whoever his provider is can come up with those instantly.

    No phone records = he is 100% in on the hoax.

    (Phone records don’t necessarily clear him, but no phone records mean he is definitely lying)

  35. sosuhme says: Jan 17, 2013 10:28 AM

    There is plenty of evidence that will either exonerate or fry Te’o. There should be phone records supporting all of these lengthy and heart wrenching phone conversations. There will be an electronic trail of everything he did on-line. He claims he sent her roses. I don’t know how you send roses across the country without a credit or debit card – so there has to be a record of that. What florist did he use? Did he order them on-line? If so there should be a record of that. What address did he give the florist? Was he notified that they were not deliverable? If they were delivered, who signed for them? There is documentation of almost everything you do now days. This documentation will tell the true story.

  36. Nickstixx says: Jan 17, 2013 10:28 AM

    It’s not going to affect his draft status either way really. Not too much anyways, he is still a 1st round pick.

  37. arrowhead816 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:31 AM

    A 3 yr online relationship, now people are saying they seen & talked to her? IMHO, I think he was dating a transgender man, only a person would go through all of this to protect something their hiding.

  38. commonsensedude says: Jan 17, 2013 10:31 AM

    If I knew someone had made up an imaginary fiancee … and then killed her off … I would be pretty worried about the person’s sanity and stability. What in the world else would they “make up” or otherwise lie about? Pass.

  39. FinFan68 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:32 AM

    He is either a liar, extraordinarily stupid or gay. None of those help his draft stock much. My bet is at least two of the three.

  40. modellforprez says: Jan 17, 2013 10:39 AM

    Good Piece. well said

  41. szwhtsup123 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:44 AM

    Hmm doesn’t show up for the BCS championship game, is a half a fruitcake with off field issues, say Hello to the Jets, Raiders or Cowboys!

  42. randolph32 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:44 AM

    Folks it only takes one team to make him a top draft pick….and there will be one!

  43. fanofevilempire says: Jan 17, 2013 10:45 AM

    maybe he was thinking about his blow up doll….
    they have name too!

  44. wacco4flacco says: Jan 17, 2013 11:00 AM

    Given the recent popularity of MTV’s new show Catfish – which is literally about what Te’o claims happened to him regarding online dating – it would only make the story weirder if this was somehow connected to that show.

  45. cliverush says: Jan 17, 2013 11:10 AM

    He is a Morman from a macho society attending a Catholic school known for its football history. Now why on earth would he want to hide that he is gay?

  46. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Jan 17, 2013 11:11 AM

    This just in! Manti doesn’t really exist.
    He was no where to be found in the NC
    game vs. Bama! And I thought Rex and the Jets owned the circus tent. Nope it’s always been in South Bend! This is absolutely crazy.

  47. blacktoothgrinn says: Jan 17, 2013 11:11 AM

    I saw it mentioned somewhere else, but can you imagine the hazing and ball busting he will take in the locker room? It would probably be easier if he comes out as gay cause this story is just too bizarre.

  48. mungman69 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:22 AM

    I still don’t get it. I wouldn’t draft him.

  49. accipiterq says: Jan 17, 2013 11:22 AM

    Manti said he met the girl in person after a game at Stanford. He has no way out of this.

  50. dalucks says: Jan 17, 2013 11:23 AM

    This will hurt Manti Teo’s draft stock similiar to Vontaze Burfict last season. Both were high first round talents but both have alot of off field maturity issues that will cause them both 1st round money. I think like Burfict, Teo will go undrafted. Granted Burfict had multiple off field immaturity issues, this one issue with Manti Teo trumps all of those by a wide margin.
    There is no right way to answer questions about this situation. There are no right answers. Even if he tells the truth, there is still alot of head scratching about his character.
    It is hard to understand and believe that in 2013 with Skype, twitter, facebook and other methods of sending photos that someone has a girlfriend that he does not see. It is hard to understand how someone has a girlfriend that he never has any physical contact, no hugs, no kisses, no date, nothing. It is hard to understand how you have a girlfriend with cancer and she is involved in a car accident but her boyfriend does not visit her, at any point. It is hard to understand how your girlfriend dies but her boyfriend does not attend the funeral. How deep was his love for her again? These are just a few questions that can only make his character look worse than it currently does.
    This is just not a situation that can be fixed with the next 98 days before the 2013 NFL draft.
    Manti Teo will go undrafted in the 2013 NFL draft. 7th round at best.

  51. nickster31 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:30 AM

    Stock was falling anyway. This does nothing but push him further down draft boards.

  52. raiderredleg says: Jan 17, 2013 11:59 AM

    Teo’s stock will fall because of his absolutely horrible performance against a Alabama team that is as close to a professional caliber team as you can play in the CFB.

    This will just be used as extra justification by those who don’t pick him.

    Personally…No way I take a MLB (or any other type of LB) high in the draft anyway. NFL is an offensive league now so you either draft offense high in the draft OR draft a DE who can rush the passer (QB can’t throw if he goes down and goes down HARD).

  53. askingwater says: Jan 17, 2013 12:00 PM

    “What if I told you that a Heisman finalist was willing to do anything to fit in with the guys…even if it meant making a fool of himself, his university, and investigative journalism as we know it?”…ESPN’s 30 for 30 presents Manti Teo.

  54. fissels says: Jan 17, 2013 12:20 PM

    “What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive”

  55. marcinhouston says: Jan 17, 2013 12:28 PM

    If Te’o actually fell asleep with the phone by his ear every night with this girl, like he said in interviews, he can present cell phone or long distance billing records that show frequent 1hr+ calls to the same number every night during that period. If he can, I mostly would believe him because it would be quite an elaborate ruse to leave the phone on the line every night just to document your own hoax. If he cannot produce the records, then he made up or embellished the emotional details of his personal tragedy story and is a fake.

  56. ishudbgm says: Jan 17, 2013 12:46 PM

    If your an NFL GM would you want 53 Manti Te’o like personalities on your ball club? My answer is NO. It would be the blind leading the blind!

  57. granadafan says: Jan 17, 2013 12:58 PM

    Teams can deal with criminals and have a history of doing so. However, they’re a little more cautious when it comes to players who are mentally unstable. To perpetuate a fake girlfriend for years just doesn’t seem like Teo is right in the head.

  58. notoriouswarsaw says: Jan 17, 2013 1:13 PM

    sorry if someone else has said this I didn’t read the comments but his punishment must be severe, getting drafted by the jets would do

  59. doubleogator says: Jan 17, 2013 8:13 PM

    I know I wouldn’t draft him even in the 7th round. If he’s such a liar then I wouldn’t want him on my team, and if he really is that gullible and stupid, yes stupid, then I wouldn’t want him on my team…

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