Chargers explain decision to shield Te’o from media


It’s essentially a Te’obargo, and the Chargers now admit they won’t be making their second-round pick available to the media at all until the middle of June.

So why are they not letting Te’o talk?  Chargers director of public relations Bill Johnston addressed the situation today on XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego.

“Right now, anything that he does . . . makes news,” Johnston said.  “Right now, the news that people are talking about with him is really not the news that we want him to be talking about.  Really, he’s a rookie, he’s a second-round draft pick, yet everybody wants to talk to him.  Well, why?  Well, it all goes back to that stuff that happened back in the winter, and back when he was at Notre Dame.

“To us, that’s not what we want him talking about.  We want him focused on becoming a Charger, on becoming a better player.  Learning our system.  Getting comfortable here.  We want him talking football, talking Chargers, and that’s all we want him focused on right now.  So we’re doing what we think is in his best interests to stay focused and become the best player he can.”

That really doesn’t make much sense, frankly.  Media availability inherently is a distraction, regardless of the topics addressed.  Any time spent talking to the media takes away from Te’o’s effort to become a better player and learn the system.

Moreover, the furor regarding the Lennay Kukua nonsense largely has subsided.  It wasn’t, for example, much of an issue during the first session between Te’o and the media on May 10, in connection with the team’s rookie minicamp.

Of course, the controversy can remain relevant if Te’o does things to keep it relevant.  For example, he chose to attend the Maxim party honoring a list of women that included the non-existent Kukua.  Under the circumstances, it’s fair game to ask him why he did it.

It’s not fair game for the Chargers to protect him, or anyone other player simply because the team wants him to talk about certain subjects and not others.  Watch the video from the May 10 session; the kid can handle himself well.  Besides, they picked him knowing what having him on the team would entail.  It’s short-sighted to treat him differently than every other player.

Think of the message that sends this to the locker room, at a time when he’d love nothing more than to simply be one of the guys.  He’s necessarily not one of the guys, because the team is giving him different treatment than the rest of his teammates.

Meanwhile, the team is making the issue even bigger than it should be, giving Te’o yet another topic to address when he finally talks to the media and making it harder for him to lay the foundation for a positive relationship with the folks who buy ink by the truckload.

While it’s hard for any organization to reverse a decision that has been made and implemented, the best move for the Chargers would be to treat Te’o no differently than any other player — and to hope that the media eventually will do the same thing.

40 responses to “Chargers explain decision to shield Te’o from media

  1. The team is making this a bigger issue than it should be? Or the media? Does the media have questions for any of the other Chargers rookies right now?

  2. I think it makes perfect sense. He’s not giving the media a bone. he’s absolutely right. The media isn’t going to talk football but focus on the story of the winter. They’re attempting to move forward. Good for them

  3. I have a hard time believing any of his teammates are upset that he doesn’t have to talk about his fake girlfriend.
    And he is “one of the guys” because that is the only thing that is different from his other teammates. He still is in the weight room, on the field everyday with them.
    The media just needs to get over it because the fans are. Honestly, are any fans on here clamering to talk to Teo? After he already addressed it, 10 days ago, as you mentioned multiple times.

  4. I disagree Florio.

    Yes, on the surface, it sounds reasonable to say:
    “If he keeps talking about it, it will go away” but it won’t. It’s like the paparazzi telling Ladi Di: Just 100 more pictures, then we’ll stop…promise!” No, the guy has already addressed it over and over…that Ronaiah guy was hours on national TV…it is NOT going to stop whether he does or doesn’t do what the media wants. So may as well have him just focus on football…he has a new defense to learn…

  5. Completely disagree with your take. I think that’s a good move. Make it easier on him to just concentrate on football. I don’t see how having him respond to all of this makes him one of the guys. The other guys aren’t having to do it. Let him find his place in the locker room first among his peers, and deal with them before he faces that circus.

  6. I think Teo is best served by listening to the folks who sign his checks and not these entitled media cry babies. What’s so wrong with having him solely focus on becoming a solid contributor w/o these unnecessary distractions? Man, those Chargers sure are dumb *Sarcasm*

  7. C’mon, who besides Chargers fans ever cares about the Chargers training camp? No one. Do you think reporters gave a hoot last year about what went on there? No, they didn’t. The only reason any reporter wants to talk to any Charger is because of what Te’o went through at Notre Dame, so they can turn the Chargers camp into the NY Jets west. Well, that’s yesterday’s papers. If I were Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy, I’d put a gag on that, too.

  8. Gee, maybe the Chargers (and I’m not a fan of them or Teo) want him to learn the PRO GAME. Not the “how to handle the media game”. Shame they won’t allow you and the other talking heads turn their OTA’s into a circus. Maybe they learned from the Jets and Tebow mistake.

  9. “That really doesn’t make much sense, frankly. Media availability inherently is a distraction, regardless of the topics addressed. Any time spent talking to the media takes away from Te’o’s effort to become a better player and learn the system.”

    Except websites like this take potshots at the kid left and right. Making sure he’s spending his time earning the money they’re paying him and not worrying about the media circus is probably a good decision. Look what the media did to Tim Tebow. He probably would at least be signed by someone (probably as a camp arm) except nobody wants the media circus. I think they’re playing this one right.

  10. I wish he would be interviewed and just stonewall an overzealous media. Have him answer “I choose not to answer any of those questions, deal with it”.

  11. lol…..another case of arrogance from a organization. They knew the scrutiny that accompanied Teo. If they didn’t , shame on them. This is what happens when you think you are the bride but barely s bridesmaid at the NFL wedding . The chargers haven’t built up enough equity to make acquisitions like this but they thumbed their nose at common sense and intelligent decision making. Now they are left to explain why they chose Teo in the first place given their inability to manage the circus they follows him.

  12. Good on the Chargers. It’s a no win situation for him to sit in front of the media and get torched over and over. He’s already told his story, let the guy just play football.

  13. I think he should go in front of the media, and when they ask about his past, say no comment or next question, do that for about 3-4 months, and they wont ask anymore.

  14. The media is making this a bigger issue than it is. Bill Johnston has it right. Look at what the media did with Tim Tebow. You couldn’t turn on the tv without seeing him.

    How can you torch the Jets for creating or letting a media circus continue when they are trying to concentrate on football and then scold the Chargers for not allowing a media circus so they can concentrate on football?

    They didn’t draft him because he was a media magnet who minored in football. They drafted the kid for his talent and can handle him however they want.

  15. He is now property of the SD Chargers. Good move not letting him talk. Media will continue to bring it up until actual games are being played, so why distract from the team.

  16. He’s back on Twitter, so hopefully we can hear about how his life going. From every rookie deed he has to do, to all of the friends he’s making, it seems like he’s a really sweet dude who loves Hawaii and just got caught up in a crappy situation and had the worst game of his life on top of it. Time to just let Manti show that he is a regular human being who still has tons of fans and people that love him. Yes, it was embarrassing, but that doesn’t mean people hate you. Just keep doing you Manti!!

  17. Couldn’t disagree more.

    The Chargers are getting it right here. Unfortunately Te’o has proven he lacks maturity by attending that Maxim party and giving that black eye in his past new legs. Naturally the media was ready to pounce on that story again. When he is ready, the media will be allowed more access to him.

    What the Chargers are doing is ultimately for his own good.

  18. The problem is that the media WILL NEVER LET IT GO. This thing happened over 6 months ago, yet here we are… Still talking about it. Every Joe Schmo blogger and washed up sports writer is going to be trying break some sort of news about something that’s been beaten more than a dead horse that was beat to death. Let it go. Move on. Let the kid sink or swim. If he wants to live a lie, so be it. The subject was intriguing for the first few days but since has become boring. Why are they sheltering him? Because writers don’t want to ask about football… They want to know his opinions on Benghazi. They don’t want to know if he’s picking up the schemes, they want to know his thoughts on the unemployment issue in this country. In other words, they don’t want to know his thoughts on football, but rather everything but. Which is probably the same reason you want to talk to him. Let it go already.

  19. Agree with it. McCoy was in Denver during tebowmania. He knows what that circus does to a team and a player. Tebow can’t get arrested right now. It’s not because he’s awful, it’s because the circus is just too big. Nip it now with teo and he might get a chance to be good.

  20. or they could explain that the media displays the maturity of a 4th grader whenever it gets the chance and they’d rather not subject him or the team to such nonsense, they all have better things to do.
    what is so exciting about a 2nd round pick who was “exposed” during the nat’l championship game?….during the summer

  21. It’s best to listen to the people who sign your paycheck. Just getting into the NFL is a huge accomplishment in itself. Smart move by SD.

  22. The Chargers are smart to muzzle Moron Manti Te’o, he’s nothing but an ignorant idiot who doesn’t have a clue about anything, especially girls. The Chargers should muzzle Moron Manti a lot longer than June, they should muzzle him the whole time he’s there. I mean what can we expect from Moron Manti, he graduated from Notre Lame which isn’t known for producing rocket scientists – just dumb football players.

  23. Good move by SD. Give the dude time to gel with his players and learn the defense..That is how he will earn the trust and respect of the players… Nice move in the FO..

    Now Te’0 go out there and show the NFL you can play in this league… Use this situation as a big chip to get you going…

  24. Good for The Chargers and better for Te’o. Let him concentrate on football. He has my respect for the beating he took in the media and still standing. The media is the cause he did not get drafted higher, but he is in the best place. San Diego, good luck Manti Te’o.

  25. ” Media availability inherently is a distraction, regardless of the topics addressed. ”

    Well you just hit the nail on the head. Media should leave it alone and find more quality content to attract readers/viewers rather the Jerry Springeresque stories.

    Hate to break it to you, but the game would go on without the media hype. Media needs the game. The game doesn’t need the media.

  26. He can’t talk right now his fake dead girlfriend’s fake living dad just had a fake heart attack and obviously Teo has some fake things to work through, it isn’t anything serious because of the imaginary nature of the condition.

  27. Come on, Florio. You disagree with how the Chargers are handling Te’o because you are part of the media being denied access to him. You know it’s the right move by the organization to shield him from this crap.

  28. Oh looky…my post got deleted yet AGAIN.

    And this is exactly why athletes don’t talk to the media. You guys are a joke. Just hyping stuff up to hype it up.

    Stop trying to make something out of and/or retreading a past/non story and find some real news.

  29. Locking out the media from Teo gives them extra time to cover all the other 2nd round draft picks more in depth.

    What? There’s no interest in the other 2nd round draft picks? Wait, are you saying there’s actually very little interest most of the 1st round draft picks and almost zero interest in the 2nds, 3rds and so on?

    I’m with the other posters … the decision to keep Teo from turning into a Tebow is well played by the Chargers. The only interest in Teo right now is the tabloid appeal of his name.

    I think it would be wise for every team to keep all of their rookies away from the media until the preseason games begin. They need to focus on being football players.

  30. “That really doesn’t make much sense, frankly.”

    It doesn’t make sense to you because you are kind of, sort of, in some sense…media.

    To the rest of us in the world of common sense, it makes perfect sense.

  31. Best move for who? Media?? Of course. I mean, if you want to talk about best moves for Teo, how about the media get off his johnson and stop looking to talk to him? There is a novel idea! The folks keeping it current, stop making it current. Besides, despite his predraft hype, he is a 2nd round draft pick. Move along folks, nothing to see here. I mean, it is starting to look like the folks interested is 100% media and 0% everyone else. So really, what is your true angle?!

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