Yes, Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o will hear some jokes in the locker room about his fake dead girlfriend. No, it won’t be anything that alienates Te’o from the team.
That’s the word from veteran Donald Butler, who is penciled in on the Chargers’ depth chart to start at inside linebacker next to Te’o this season. Butler says everyone on the team is well aware that Te’o fell for a hoax that resulted in him publicly declaring that he had fallen in love with a woman who had died of cancer, only to learn later that the woman never existed.
“I’m sure he’ll get some jabs,” Butler told U-T San Diego. “But that comes with being a rookie. He might get a little more because of his situation, but I’m sure he’s man enough to handle it and really grow from it. I don’t think it’s going to be anything over-the-top. It’ll be your normal rookie jokes.”
Butler said his own message to Te’o was a simple text telling him to be ready to work.
“I just want to see him come here and work,” Butler said. “A lot of people are talking about the future, and as bright as the future may seem or sound, he has to come in and prove himself before anything. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I want someone coming in ready and willing to work and learn and be a part of this defense.”
The sooner Te’o shows that he’s a valuable part of the Chargers’ defense, the sooner the Chargers’ veterans will accept him, and stop with the Lennay Kekua jokes.