While it’s unclear whether it’s happening at the behest of the team or the player, Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o has escaped, to date, the reach of the media assembled at the team’s offseason workouts.
Yes, the guy who sat with Jeremy Schaap and Katie Couric in the immediate aftermath of the fake-dead-girlfriend-who-turned-out-to-be-a-dude scandal in January has been ducking the media, now that he’s in the NFL and the Lennay Kukua debacle has faded considerably from view.
Matt Calkins of U-T San Diego addresses the situation, arguing that Te’o should deal with the media sooner rather than later. And Calkins is right. The interactions can be delayed, but they can’t be prevented.
Te’o has been made available to the press once, after the team’s initial rookie minicamp workout earlier this month. Since then, reporters have had no access to Te’o.
Talking to the media goes with the territory. The league wants teams and players to cooperate with the media because media coverage creates the best kind of marketing — organic and free. And the money Manti will make under his rookie deal comes in large part from the machine into which the media helps shovel coal.
If Te’o has gotten to the point where he can show up at the party commemorating a list of the world’s 100 hottest women that includes Kukua, Te’o can handle the media.
Even if he can’t, he’ll have to. Like it or not, it’s part of the price of playing pro football.