Thanks to the most bizarre scandal in the history of college football, Manti Te'o became the
most scrutinized and vetted player in pre-NFL Draft history. Is he gay? Is he too slow? Is he
overrated? Is he just a strange guy who can run down ball carriers? All those questions followed
the former Notre Dame linebacker after it was revealed that the dead girlfriend he said he had,
never really existed.
The questions about his character, sexuality, and carrying on a relationship with somebody
that never had a pulse, hitched on to him as he rode into Thursday's NFL Draft. Mel Kiper, Jr,
draft expert, had Te'o in the To 10 of the NFL Draft, but that was BEFORE all the drama. Experts
speculated that Te'o was radioactive because of the controversy and whispers about his sexuality.
Most said they didn't want to have a Tim Tebow-like circus on their hands. Others were concerned
about Teo's speed. He ran a turtle-like 4.8 at the NFL combine, but improved on that at his pro
day, clocking a 4.7. It's really amazing how, Te'o could play nearly ever snap for every game for
four years, become an All-American, and Heisman finalist, and people want to judge him on
4.7 seconds of his life. Jerry Rice ran a 4.71 at the combine and he turned out pretty well, didn't he?
Te'o, who was at home with his non-imaginary parents in Hawaii, sat through the first-round
without getting a phone call. On day two, Te'o didn't have to wait long, being selected by the
San Diego Chargers, the first linebacker taken in the draft. San Diego seems to be the perfect
spot for Te'o. It's a laid back, southern California city whose spotlight is not as bright as say,
New York Chicago, or Boston. He can just concentrate on football and not worry about all
the other stuff.
And for a city that just lost a beloved son and legend in Junior Seau, Te'o has a chance to
become a fan favorite and star. There's something seems to be right and poetic about Te'o
being selected by the team where Seau became a legend. Could be a perfect fit.
It also goes to show that talent always wins out in the NFL. There were questions about Teo's
character and many felt he shouldn't be drafted until the latter rounds. But like the marijuana
loving Honey Badger from LSU, Te'o has a talent that's coveted in the NFL, and as long as you
have that, teams will look the other way on the other stuff.
January is when that incredible story broke about Te'o and his dead girlfriend that never really
existed. That seems like a long, long, time ago. A lot has happened since then that makes all
that drama seem so trivial. Unlike Teo's girlfriend, the Boston Marathon bombing was real.
Lives were lost and destroyed forever. It will take a long time for the city to recover.
Teo has recovered. His scandal will be part of him and his legacy forever, but it's so trivial in comparison to other things that are going on in this world. We've all gotten over it. We used
Te'o to be the butt of many a joke. He had to go through an excruciating time waiting to see
how the first phase of his career would play out.
Te'o didn't realize his dream of being a first-round pick (He can tell his imaginary friends he
was one) but he got his happy ending and he's a San Diego Charger now.