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Manti Te'o wins back support during 2013 NFL Combine press conference

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Te'o handled his press conference very well. (USATSI)

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's hard to resist cracking jokes at the expense of Manti Te'o, but it's even harder not to be impressed with the job he did handling the biggest crowd in combine history when he stepped to the podium on Saturday.

The full details of Te'o's story are already out there. He didn't have to navigate any tricky storylines. All he had to do was be honest and boring for about 15 minutes and then get the hell out of Dodge. He managed to do just that and helped push his narrative back onto the football field.

"The incident, I said all I needed to say about that," Te'o said. "How I'm handling it going forward is focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everyone gets the opportunity to be here."

A ride to the 2013 NFL Combine isn't free for Te'o. It involves a barrage of questions from various NFL teams interested in his services. There are a whopping 20 teams, Te'o confirmed Saturday, that will be speaking with him.

He's talked to the Texans and the Packers and said there are 18 more to go, all of whom will be inquiring about his Catfishing incident.

"Quite a few teams asked me about it," Te'o said. "Some go to certain lengths. Some just ask me, give me a brief overview of it."

But did anyone not ask about the Lennay Kekua story?

"No," Te'o said after laughing at that, though. "They all asked me about it. Just tell me the facts. They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened."

That's all he can do and that's all he did Saturday. How would he describe the media scene for his press conference?

"This is crazy."

Would he do things differently if he could go back in time?

"Obviously."

Is he dating anyone in real life right now?

Yes, that was an actual question. And, no, Te'o isn't involved with anyone in the mortal realm at this point in his life. How could he be? Te'o's life is a zoo at this point, with him noting several difficult incidents involving the scrutiny of his situation.

"The toughest moment was a phone call I got from my sister when she told me they had to sneak my own family in their home," Te'o said. "That had to be the hardest part."

Ugh. Te'o said he still gets double takes when he's walking around the grocery store but he's gotten past being embarrassed publicly about the incident and said he "wouldn't be standing here" if he was still embarrassed.

He claimed to learn valuable lessons -- "keep your circle small," find out "who is in your corner and who is not" -- and hopes for the biggest payoff of them all by nailing the press conference Saturday.

"Hopefully after this I answered the things I have to answer and we can move on with football."

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