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Manti Te’o: The Alabama game doesn’t define my career

Manti Te'o, Eddie Lacy AP

Putting the fake dead girlfriend aside, the biggest question NFL teams have about former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is whether his bad performance against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game indicates that he folds against NFL-quality competition. Unsurprisingly, Te’o doesn’t see it that way.

Te’o knows people say that because Alabama was the best team he played, and because Alabama was the worst game of his senior year, that must mean that when he plays against the kind of NFL talent that Alabama has, he can’t compete. But while visiting the Lions on Tuesday, he told the team’s website that that perception is inaccurate.

“It’s a little frustrating that people look at one game and say that was the closest thing to an NFL team that I had faced, not giving credit to all the other teams that I played,” Te’o told detroitlions.com. “So you’re saying Stanford isn’t an NFL team; Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and USC. [Alabama] is definitely a game I didn’t do as well as I could have, but it’s not something I felt could define my career at Notre Dame.”

It’s true that Alabama wasn’t the only good team on Notre Dame’s schedule during Te’o’s senior year, but it’s also true that Alabama had future NFL players on the offensive line and at running back with Eddie Lacy, and that Alabama running game ran right over Te’o. That has to be a concern.

“I can always get better, and I’m going to get better,” Te’o said.

If an NFL team is going to spend a first-round draft pick on Te’o, that team will have to be convinced that he will get a lot better than he was against Alabama.

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48 Responses to “Manti Te’o: The Alabama game doesn’t define my career”
  1. classyjacklambert says: Apr 10, 2013 6:45 AM

    Its more like it defined the end of his college career.

  2. stanmarshmorelikestandarsh says: Apr 10, 2013 6:49 AM

    Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to define your career in Minnesota.

  3. tjacks7 says: Apr 10, 2013 6:49 AM

    It’s hard to overlook the Alabama game because the rest of the schedule was pretty cupcake. Maybe if Notre Dame actually played somebody last year they, and Te’o, would have been exposed before the National Championship.

  4. randallflagg52 says: Apr 10, 2013 6:52 AM

    Te’o had an outstanding college career. One game isn’t going to define him as a player. I think that whoever drafts him is going to get one heck of a steal.

  5. jjb0811 says: Apr 10, 2013 6:52 AM

    1. Fake dead girlfriend.
    2. Slow times & all around sub par at combine.
    3. Terrible game against future pro players on the biggest college stage.

    For me, that’s an awful lot of red flags.

  6. green18blue52 says: Apr 10, 2013 6:53 AM

    One must also consider that he had just found out about the hoax and was extremely embarrassed, nervous and under immense pressure. I saw the kid play in high school and 4 years in college, he is the real deal and will be a steal to the team smart enough to take him at the end of round 1.

  7. reed20fence says: Apr 10, 2013 6:53 AM

    It’s not just a matter of him playing pro-caliber players while being one of the only pro-caliber defenders on NDs side. There were many times where he was in position to make a play and he didn’t wrap up, take the right angle, fell for play action fakes, or just got his ankles broken.

    The case you could make is, he had an aberration of a game, and the fact that he made it through this scandal with all of America simultaneously mocking him says something about his patience and intelligence.

  8. blackqbwhiterb says: Apr 10, 2013 6:56 AM

    Remember Brady Quinn vs. LSU?…. How’d he work out so far in the NFL? I’m not expecting much out of this kid….

  9. jumpball81td says: Apr 10, 2013 7:03 AM

    “Manti Te’o: The Alabama game doesn’t define my career”

    Lennay Kukua does

  10. freebird2011 says: Apr 10, 2013 7:04 AM

    One would think that the Lions scheduled a Teo visit just in case he is there in the second round at No. 36 overall, which may be a better indicator of his draft status.

  11. noring4youstill says: Apr 10, 2013 7:10 AM

    But you’re fake GF sure doesn’t help

  12. packfaninchitown says: Apr 10, 2013 7:25 AM

    “Putting the fake dead girlfriend aside…”

    That will be the opening sentence to every story anyone ever writes about this guy…

  13. stull60060 says: Apr 10, 2013 7:38 AM

    I don’t know if anybody noticed but Teo didn’t lose the Alabama game by himself. The entire Notre Dame team didn’t show up for that game. Alabama is a great team but they’re not that much better than ND. For what ever reason ND was flat and not ready to play that evening. I’ve watched these kind of flat performances happen many times in the 45 years I’ve been watching college and pro football. It happens. The wining team is never that good and the losing team is never that bad. Teo’s performance in the NFL will have nothing to do with that one game or his entire collage career. The NFL is a whole new ball game.

  14. vavikingfan says: Apr 10, 2013 7:55 AM

    4th round pick at best; and yes Alabama and the combine defined you.

  15. Giantspunk213 says: Apr 10, 2013 8:04 AM

    It didn’t define it…but it sure as hell didn’t help it any.

  16. 4superbowls says: Apr 10, 2013 8:21 AM

    Vikings at 23 or 25 and he’ll be the steal of the draft

  17. ivedoneyourwife says: Apr 10, 2013 8:24 AM

    Eddie don’t step on Manti, he’s hugging his girlfriend.

  18. roadtrip3500 says: Apr 10, 2013 8:24 AM

    “[Alabama] is definitely a game I didn’t do as well as I could have, but it’s not something I felt could define my career at Notre Dame.”

    Kid, that’s called an excuse. Ask any NFL player who bombed in the Super Bowl if it defined their career – Scott Norwood might have a couple of words for you.

    You’re not Lawrence Taylor, you’re not Ray Lewis. And if Alabama exposed your weaknesses with “future” NFL players, just wait until the experienced NFL players get hold of you.

  19. fatcamper says: Apr 10, 2013 8:32 AM

    “So you’re saying Stanford isn’t an NFL team; Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and USC”

    Hopefully this isn’t as shocking as finding out that your dead girlfriend isn’t real, but I would answer “No.” to all of those. Balls in your court Manti.

  20. mungman69 says: Apr 10, 2013 8:35 AM

    I wish him luck. I think that he’ll go late in the first round. It will be interesting to see how he does.

  21. fwippel says: Apr 10, 2013 8:41 AM

    At this point, Te’O isn’t worth a first round pick. I know a lot of mock drafts have him going there, but the Alabama game is simply too important to overlook.

    Throw in the fake dead girlfriend and his failure to disclose the hoax immediately after finding out, and I can’t help but think that there may be some significant character issues with Te’O.

    As for the Vikings taking him at #25? That amounts to a Percy Harvin for Manti Te’O trade. Uh, no.

  22. souldogdave says: Apr 10, 2013 8:42 AM

    Um, yes it does!!

  23. greymares says: Apr 10, 2013 8:49 AM

    I told my wife that 4 or 5 affairs over a 44 yr. marriage does not define my loyalty as a husband.

  24. whatjusthapped says: Apr 10, 2013 8:53 AM

    It shouldn’t make a difference but Te’o’s sexual orientation has been a focus by teams considering him. That said, I would think the Viking fans would welcome him with open arms for reasons in addition to his ability to play football. Its not like the Vikings are opposed to throwing away their #1 draft picks (Troy Williamson, Erasmus James, C. Ponder) so in many ways, Te’o seems likely to go to the Vikings.

  25. gatorprof says: Apr 10, 2013 9:15 AM

    Huh? The tape doesn’t lie. He was easily blocked, couldn’t shed blockers, looked very slow, and was a complete non-factor against elite college talent. Things will only get worse in the NFL.

    Throw in the fact that he IS SLOW in shorts and a t-shirt versus a stop watch AND that he has made some very questionable personal decisions and it all equals a big slide downward on everyone’s draft board.

    Any team that sniffs him in the first round is taking a huge gamble. Aside from the ND hype machine, he really isn’t that great of a player and was badly exposed against Bama.

  26. gochargersgo says: Apr 10, 2013 9:20 AM

    If career success is based on how you played against Alabama last year, then there aren’t going to be very many good players in this years draft.

  27. brettfavresmidget says: Apr 10, 2013 9:22 AM

    It’s time for Richard Sherman to take Manti Te’o under his wing and mentor the young man. At the very least it would take things from ridiculous to ridonkulous. Maybe they could snort some crushed adderall off of Manti’s dead girlfriend’s corpse.

  28. abninf says: Apr 10, 2013 9:23 AM

    Think of Lennay Kukua but laugh, don’t cry. I know she’d want it that way. Hey hey.

  29. mazblast says: Apr 10, 2013 9:27 AM

    Since he’s a high-profile player from the highest-profile “school” there is, since he’s been hyped by the media and the school forever as some sort of All-World monster defender, and since there are always owners, coaches, and GMs stupid enough to fall for the hype, he’ll be picked earlier than he should be, while some kid who can actually PLAY will go undrafted or have to settle for fifth-round money.

    The only question is which stupid owner, GM, or coach will be the one to fall for this garbage.

    And as for the “doesn’t define” bit, sorry, you ARE defined by your biggest and most public successes–and failures. I have never seen such a highly-touted defensive player spend so much time on his BACK as Te’o did against Alabama. Not just on the ground, not on his backside, on his BACK.

  30. jbaxt says: Apr 10, 2013 9:37 AM

    Define a career? Let’s see, the biggest game in the biggest setting and you were hugging air, or was that you just making out with your girlfriend? You know, the one no one sees but you? Takes me back to when my sister had an imaginary friend, when she was 4… Just come out of the closet already.

  31. kanemoney says: Apr 10, 2013 9:39 AM

    Stanford is very much NOT a nfl quality team

  32. bigbwoy000 says: Apr 10, 2013 9:49 AM

    If torturing animals in some of the most inhumane ways imaginable then spreading incurable disease to unsuspecting women, including lying to anyone & everyone, pleading to a ridiculous interstate gambling ring charge & spending 18 mo in federal prison doesn’t define Mike Vick, why should the GF thing define T’eo??

    For people to continue to focus on this when others have done much much worse & are still receiving standing ovations & have been nothing but a disappointment throughout their careers is asinine.

    Leave this kid alone. Let’s see what he does once he gets a chance to play. Compared to others, this kid has done nothing wrong & has faced the music for his mistake, hasn’t ducked any interviews or blown off public appearances. Jeez, to watch people pile on him & cheer people that have shown they come from totally suspect character is sickening.

  33. kennymooseandgoose says: Apr 10, 2013 9:56 AM

    His value as a prospect is not measured by how he played against Alabama, or Alabama Tech.

    His value is not entirely measured on his college production.

    His value is not entirely measured on his 40 times, although it is a factor.

    His value is not entirely measured on catfish thing, although that raises some questions.

    *** His value is measured on whether he is considered an “ascending prospect,” and whether he is currently a shadow of what he will one day develop into. And that depends upon his heart, his work ethic, whether he spent a lot of time at the Notre Dame film room and weight room, whether he is a natural competitor, and whether he did leadership things that no one asked him to do, but just did it on his own, because of who he some day wants to become. All of those intangibles are the real indicators of whether someone is an ascending prospect, and worthy of moving up the draft boards. No one cares how you did against Alabama. It’s how you are projected to develop into, 3 years from now.

  34. edjy71 says: Apr 10, 2013 9:57 AM

    It’s pretty obvious this anti-Te’o vitrol is driven entirely by fans who absolutely detest the school. It’s unreasonable to show this kind of vitrol to a player considering what he did vs. what some of the other prospects have done.

    Want proof, just talk to one of these guys about the Te’o subject and within 30 seconds they’ll be talking about how much they hate the school.

    Yes, yes, I know. They’re so overrated, they play a cupcake schedule, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Well if you hate them now, just wait, you’re REALLY going to hate them when they keep winning.

    What are you going to do if they keep winning and you no longer have a “fake girlfriend” story to hang your hat on? What card will you play then?

  35. spideysdog says: Apr 10, 2013 10:01 AM

    “It’s a little frustrating that people look at one game and say that was the closest thing to an NFL team that I had faced, not giving credit to all the other teams that I played,” Te’o told detroitlions.com. “So you’re saying Stanford isn’t an NFL team; Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and USC. [Alabama] is definitely a game I didn’t do as well as I could have, but it’s not something I felt could define my career at Notre Dame.”

    Has, or will this guy EVER get it? Yes, Mantei, I’m saying Stanford, Mich St., Mich, Purdue, and USC are NOT NFL teams. Neither is Alabama for that matter. The lights shined for you on the grandest stage that College Football presents, and you disappeared. You had months to prepare for the Combine and fell flat. Every opportunity you’ve been given to step up when the lights are on, you’ve fallen flat.

  36. thaoption1 says: Apr 10, 2013 10:23 AM

    Who ever draft this guy will regret it in 3 years

  37. randygnyc says: Apr 10, 2013 10:26 AM

    But it WILL define your draft.

  38. eatitfanboy says: Apr 10, 2013 10:29 AM

    The other thing to consider is that while he will be playing against Alabama level players in the NFL, he will also be playing WITH Alabama level players in the NFL. He won’t be called upon to single handedly stop a powerful offense like he was in that game, and failed miserably to do.

  39. src3084 says: Apr 10, 2013 10:43 AM

    Yeah, the audacity for people to judge his NFL prospects for being completely owned by the one time he faced NFL-caliber talent. They should instead look long and hard at the Pittsburgh, Navy, and Wake Forest tape.

  40. nardointhenati says: Apr 10, 2013 10:54 AM

    As bad as he played vs Bama he still had 10 tackles. His two syarting D-lineman getting hurt didnt help his cause either. Im not saying T’eo is the 2nd coming of Junior Seau but you dont have the college career and accolades T’eo does simply because he went to ND.

  41. wlubake says: Apr 10, 2013 11:28 AM

    I went back and watched every snap he took in this game. His “awful performance” is grossly overstated. I think it is the result of piling on from people who didn’t take the time to single out his tape for the game, but pass along the impressions of a few people over and over.

    Watching his snaps, read most plays correctly, even getting into the backfield to make plays pretty often. Usually a late chip from a lineman or the fullback just put him off course. He missed 3 tackles he should have had from my count. That makes it a bad game, but not a complete failure.

    He also faced double teams OFTEN throughout the game. Clearly Saban game-planned for him (which should tell pro scouts something) while reducing attention to other pro prospects like Nix and Tuitt.

    If you go back and watch (easily available on YouTube), I think you’ll see it wasn’t that bad. Unless you’ve already decided you don’t like him/ND. Then you’ll see what you want.

  42. chawk12thman says: Apr 10, 2013 1:02 PM

    It only defined your ability on that day. It also makes one wonder what you will do against the pro’s in the NFL.

  43. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Apr 10, 2013 2:00 PM

    It may not define his career as Te’o may go on to prove people wrong however that championship game was a big stage and it does impact his draft status like it or not.

    If he played big in that game, I think he would be a first rounder but after a weak showing, he is more likely a 2nd or 3rd eound pick.

  44. strokeytheclown says: Apr 10, 2013 2:05 PM

    No, your career will be defined by perpetrating a stupid hoax in order to get attention within the sports media. Great players become great by their performance on the field.

  45. wgray981 says: Apr 10, 2013 2:34 PM

    Te’o will be a terrible LB. I feel bad for the team dumb enough to draft him. His fake girlfriend tells you everything you need to know about his character, and the fact that he only played well against terrible teams tells you everything you need to know about his playing.

  46. wlubake says: Apr 10, 2013 2:49 PM

    @wgray981 – Not a lot of respect for the PAC12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford Cardinal, huh? Or Big 12 co-champ Oklahoma.

  47. lovinthatsomanyhateonnd says: Apr 10, 2013 3:03 PM

    LMAO its hilarious to me how he is singled out, while so many forget that Minter and Jones didnt exactly have stellar games against Bama either. Also, a LB doesnt get 7 INT’s, especially 3 of them being tips, without some instincts…as well as effort. Compare J Jones against T’eo..sure Manti doesnt have the athletic skill set Jones does, but Manti will put in twice the work, twice the effort, and not think twice about it…thats the kind of guy id want on my team, but if you dont thats your opinion…

  48. greg285 says: Apr 11, 2013 10:09 AM

    That one game exposed you as over-hyped! The first time you face real NFL Caliber talent, you were steamrolled….

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