What's next for Manti Te'o?

What's next for Manti Te'o?
January 24, 2013, 9:40 pm
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With less than a month separating Manti Teo from the NFL combine, the focus continues to be on his off-the-field girlfriend hoax rather than how his football skills will fit on an NFL club.

Lennay Kekua isnt going away, even though she never existed. Teo has now spoken on and off camera about the situation, making his case that he wasnt involved in any part of the hoax.

Now that Teo is likely done with interviews for a bit, his full attention can turn to preparing for the NFL combine next month in Indianapolis -- where questions about the hoax are sure to resurface.

Teo would be well-served to speak to reporters at the NFL combine and be open and honest about the Kekua hoax, but hes not required to meet the media in Indianapolis. He could just as easily deflect questions about the saga and only answer football-related queries, too.

But thats public questioning. Each team will have plenty of questions for Teo, with some probing into the Kekua hoax more than others.

One former NFL player told CSNChicago.com the best thing for Teo would be to be honest and forthright about the Kekua story, since NFL teams are likely just as willing as he is to move on from it.

The worst thing Teo could do, the former player said, was offer excuses about the story -- and, too, use Kekua as a reason for his poor play against Alabama in the BCS Championship. His off-the-field character wont be of much concern to teams, either, and theyll judge him on his football character -- in other words, his dedication, work ethic, love of the game, etc., the former player explained.

That doesnt mean Teo wont be questioned at all about the Kekua hoax by NFL teams. Some teams may dig deep to find the truth outside of interviews with Teo. But another former player told CSNChicago.com the linebackers saving grace is his agent, Tom Condon, who can keep the focus on football for his client in Indianapolis.

The Kekua saga likely wont affect Teo from a football standpoint, even in the hyper-scrutinized nature of the next three months leading up to the NFL Draft. From a personal standpoint, he and his family certainly want this saga -- one thats led the Teo name to become the butt of jokes from coast to coast -- to go away.

Teos interview with Couric wont close the book on this story, not with a bevy of questions lingering. Most of the evidence thats out there supports Teos claim, but yet questions remain regarding plenty of aspects to this bizarre story.

On Thursday, before Teos interview with ABCs Katie Couric hit the air, the lawyer of alleged perpetrator Ronaiah Tuiasosopo said it was his client who was talking to Teo the entire time -- in other words, Tuiasosopo was impersonating a female.

A trio of voicemails were released Thursday as well, with the messages purportedly left on Teos phone from the person he thought was Kekua certainly sounding like a female voice. Right now, the last part of this story yet to be filled in is from Tuiasosopos end -- when we hear from him (and hear his impression of Kekua, too) perhaps well move closer to closure on this saga.

But the complete details of everythings surrounding this saga may never be known. A large gray area will exist in which observers can draw conclusions one way or the other on Teo, Tuiasosopo and the entire story.