INDIANAPOLIS – Manti Te'o only recently overcame the embarrassment
of the public exposure brought when it was revealed Jan. 16 that he was fooled
by a male acquaintance into believing he was dating a woman he genuinely loved.
The Notre Dame linebacker met with hundreds of media Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and with poise and patience answered every question, including one from a New York reporter who asked “Are you dating anyone in real life?”
He'll meet with a total of 20 teams at the Scouting Combine, including two meetings Friday – with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers. In those 15-minute strictly timed interviews held in team hotel suites, Te'o said he was asked to provide the facts and give a brief overview of what happened.
“They want to be able to trust their player,” said Te'o, a 22-year-old All-American projected to be a first-round pick and second-ranked inside linebacker in the draft. “They don't want to invest in somebody you can't trust.”
Te'o said he wouldn't have held the press conference if he was still embarrassed, but the hurt and disappointment he feels from having his last name – not his first – cast in a negative light leaves a lasting wound.
“The toughest moment to be honest with you was a phone call I got from my sister that they had to sneak my own family into the home,” Te'o said. “…Knowing my family was in the situation because of something I did, that was the hardest part.”
Te'o didn't say he had regrets over how the hoax played out and said he waited so long to share the truth because he was in a “whirlwind” and chose to wait to give his side. He will not pursue legal action against any of the individuals involved and said he's sympathetic to the family of Roniah Tuiasosopo knowing they, too, are going through a difficult time far from their normal routine.
“It got overwhelming at times. I think the hardest part – not necessarily my first name, but my last name – seeing it out there,” he said. “Everybody here, that's what you treasure. That's what you hold dear.
“For me, hopefully, I'm just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I've answered everything I could.”