Manti Te'o, the linebacker from Notre Dame, is/was one helluva good college football player. Right up until his Fighting Irish got stomped in the national championship game by Alabama, Te'o was quite a force on the field, not to mention being the runner-up to the Heisman trophy.
Like them or not, it's hard to dispute Notre Dame is as rich with tradition as anybody.
They once had the "four horsemen", and Knute Rockne with the Gipper thing. Nowadays, they still feature elves, leprechauns, and even a Touchdown Jesus. That's all fun and games to stoke up their faithful fans. Nothing wrong with that, though I still don't understand Notre Dame calling themselves the Fighting Irish, when the real Notre Dame is a cathedral in France. Then again, the name Fighting French doesn't seem to have quite the same ring to it.
But Te'o had an imaginary girlfriend whose death caused him and his team to go into mourning? That seems to be pushing the envelope a little bit even for Touchdown Jesus. Of course, now the PR folks at Notre Dame are in full damage control mode, trying to spin their way out of this fairy tale, and preserve the reputation of their star linebacker. Problem is, the media has all those pesky videos on file of Te'o when the "hoax" was still going on. And they keep playing them, and playing them some more.
Sure, they'll figure out a "reasonable" explanation and it will all blow over in due time, like most everything else. But make no mistake. Manti still has a problem in his future.
That would be at the NFL "combine" in Indianapolis prior to the 2013 NFL draft. Everybody knows that's a meat market. Pro coaches and scouts want to know EVERYTHING about a player they're considering drafting. Height, weight, vertical jump, 40 yard dash time, strength, percentage of body fat -- you name it -- and they want to know.
And then there's that little thing called a psychological evaluation. Before a pro team showers some kid with millions, it stands to reason they'd also want to make sure the young man isn't looney tunes.
Yes, some NFL teams do more due diligence checking these things out than others, but still.....
An imaginary girlfriend might raise a few eyebrows. I mean, where could it go from there? Te'o running around the field trying to tackle imaginary running backs and receivers? Pumping imaginary iron in the weight room?
Those would most definitely not be good things for the pro team.
If will be interesting to see how this plays out.....