Te'o faces media: Wants to focus on moment, football

Te'o faces media: Wants to focus on moment, football

Te'o on hoax aftermath: 'It's definitely embarrassing'

February 23, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Scott Krinch
I understand people have questions, but I’ve answered everything I could. For me I’d really like to talk about football.
—Manti Te'o on girlfriend hoax at NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- The last two months have been a roller coaster ride for Manti Te'o. The storied Fighting Irish linebacker went from being a potential Top 10 NFL Draft pick to a possible mid-late first round selection after being tangled in a bizarre girlfriend hoax and being a complete non-factor in Notre Dame's BCS Championship loss to Alabama.

Saturday afternoon, the media swarmed the podium at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium to question Te'o. As the crowd waited in anticipation at 12:00 p.m., word leaked that the press conference wouldn't take place until 2:15. When Te'o finally stepped up to the podium several hours later, there was no shortage of media members in attendance.

"That's a lot of cameras," Te'o said as he waited for the first question.

[WATCH: Te'o on what he can bring to an NFL team]

You could sense calmness and patience in Te'o's voice as it was apparent he was prepared for Saturday's interview.

"Yeah [being tired from answering questions about the incident]. I’ve said all I need to say about that," Te'o said. "How I’m handling it going forward is doing what I’m doing, focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there’s thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. Just trying to enjoy the moment."

Te'o didn't try to use the Lennay Kekua hoax as an excuse for his poor play against Alabama and shouldered the blame for Notre Dame's loss.

"That’s all on me. I played hard and so did my team, but Alabama had a great game plan and so did we," Te'o said. "They executed better than we did."

When asked to summarize the facts from the hoax and why he waited so long to tell his side of the story, Te'o admitted the 'chaos' of the situation had a lot to do with it.

"It was just a whirlwind of stuff. A 22-year-old, 21-year-old at that time, just trying to get your thoughts right," Te'o said. "Everything was just kind of chaos for a little bit, so you let that chaos die down and wait until everybody’s ready to listen."

During the interview, there was a sense of sadness coming from Te'o when answering a question about what's been the toughest moment since the hoax became public.

"I think the toughest moment, to be honest with you, was a phone call that I got from my sister where she told me that they had to sneak my own family in their home because there were people parked out in the yard and stuff like that," Teo said. "That had to be the hardest part. And for me, something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it; I can’t help. To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions I committed was definitely the hardest part for me."

As Te'o puts the past behind him. The question remaining: How far will Te'o slip in the draft? Some mock drafts have him going in the Top 15 and ESPN's Todd McShay has him going to the Bears at No 20. It's been reported the Bears will meet with Te'o at the scouting combine, but Te'o isn't concerned about what team he begins his NFL career with.

"I think I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t control," Te'o said. "And hopefully by doing the things I can control well I’ll have more favor in the other category. Whatever team I go to, I’m just going to be me, I’m going to work hard, I’m going to do my best to help the team win. And whatever happens happens."