In the end, Deadspin beat Manti Te’o to the punch by only five days.
According to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports, Te’o had planned to disclose the hoax that he claims was perpetrated on him next Monday, January 21.
If so, it would have been a bad time to do it. Bad news that emerges on a Monday sprouts legs and runs all weeks long. The better move would have been to drop a press release in the late afternoon of Friday, January 11. With the NFL divisional playoff games starting the next day, the subject would have quickly been changed — especially if Te’o had disclosed the information in a way that would have seemed plausible and correct.
Sure, Deadspin and others would have then probed the story, adding details and possibly contradicting one or more key contentions. But the opening act would have been Te’o controlling the message. Instead, the story exploded out of nowhere, followed by statements from Notre Dame and Te’o that created confusion and invited skepticism.
Forde also reports that Te’o was a “different kid” in the locker room before last Monday’s BCS title game against Alabama, and that he “wasn’t the same spark” in the locker room.
Actually, for some NFL teams the broader circumstances could help Te’o overcome the potential damage that a poor performance against Alabama may have done to his draft stock. Given the stress he surely was experiencing as he knew that, eventually, he’d be at the center of a storm of embarrassment (regardless of whether he was the victim or the perpetrator or a little of both), Te’o understandably had a rough game. It makes sense.
It’s about the only thing in all of this that does.
UPDATE 2:29 p.m. ET: Adding to the confusion regarding an inherently confusing situation, it’s unclear whether Te’o had planned to go public on Monday the 14th or Monday the 21. Forde’s article suggests that it was the 14th; we initially believed it was the 21st because Notre Dame A.D. Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday night that Te’o had planned to disclose the information “next week.”