INDIANAPOLIS—Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo told reporters the Packers are one of two teams who’ve interviewed him at the scouting combine, and that he was to meet with 18 more teams before the weekend is complete.
T’eo drew what is thought to have been the largest media gathering in scouting combine history on Saturday. They all came to hear one thing: T’eo’s description of the facts surrounding his online love affair with a fictitious woman.
“It’s definitely embarrassing. It’s only going to make me stronger and it already has,” T’eo said.
Until his play tailed off late in the season, T’eo was a strong candidate to win the Heisman Trophy. He was considered to be a high first-round draft prospect until the online incident was revealed by an investigative website in January. Since then, the national media has been awaiting the day when it could question T’eo. Today was the day.
“About the incident, I’ve said all I need to say about that. My focus is on football and the combine,” he said at the start of the press conference.
To his credit, T’eo answered every question he was asked. He was calm and composed and spoke of regret for having allowed himself to be the victim of a hoax.
“I cared for somebody. That’s what I was taught to do. It didn’t end up the way I thought it would,” he said.
T’eo explained why he declined to come clean on the incident until now.
“Let the chaos die down so somebody would listen. We wanted to let everything come out first and then I would come out. I’m very grateful for those who helped me get through that time. I think it went as smoothly as it could,” he said, though the days immediately following the report of the online hoax cast T’eo in a dim light.
T’eo met with the Packers and the Texans at the combine. “I know I’ll be meeting formally with 18 more teams,” he said.
“They want to be able to trust their players. They don’t want to invest in somebody they can’t trust,” T’eo said in appreciating teams’ need to question him about the online incident.
“I’ve learned to be honest in everything you do, understand who’s in your corner and who’s not. When Jan. 16 happened, there were a lot of people in the other corner. Always try to turn a negative thing into a positive,” he said.
What does he want to express to teams interviewing him at the combine?
“I hate to lose. I tell them you’ll get somebody humble who works hard and will do what it takes to win,” T’eo said. “Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve learned to empathize with others going through hard times. Always give somebody the benefit of the doubt.”
T’eo appeared to be successful in convincing reporters of his genuineness.