By DANNY JAILLET
Before you decide if you want to read this piece or not, let me give you a two-word summary of what it’s about: Manti Te’o. However, let me assure you that I will not rehash everything that has gone on in the past two months or so. I will not retell his bizarre story and every detail that has gone along with it. Rather, I will take a look at his story and tell you how it has benefited him. Yes that’s right, I said that this whole humiliating scandal, one that has made him undergo a quick transformation from decorated football player to terrible punch line has benefited him. Before you pass any judgment, just please hear me out.
The whole girlfriend story started in the fall of 2012. Supposedly Teo’s girlfriend and grandmother died on the same day. From that point on it was a storybook season for both Te’o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame ended up finishing the regular season undefeated, and Te’o finished third in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting. In addition, he won the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Dick Butkus Award, Maxwell Award, Bronco Nagurski Award, Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award, Walter Camp Award, and the Lott IMPACT trophy. To put it simply, he was one of college football’s most decorated players. He finished the year with 113 total tackles, which ranked him second in the nation. In addition, he finished with seven interceptions. He was a defensive “beast” and played like one throughout the majority of the season.
However, the National Championship Game was a stark contrast to his regular season performance. He totaled 10 tackles, which is a small number when you consider that he had more than 10 in three regular-season games. Even though he was less than stellar on the biggest stage, he still had a very good season.
However, what he have gotten all the recognition if it were not for his suspect story? Would he have finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting had America not fallen in love with the underdog who suffered great personal loss? Being a linebacker, the fact that he had a chance to win the award was an accomplishment in itself. Heisman Trophy candidates have been either running backs or quarterbacks the majority of the time and it is very rare to see a defensive player win college football’s most coveted award.
From his point of view, people are calling him everything from stupid to gullible to ignorant. But how stupid is he? Whether he believed or not, he was smart enough to go along with it. After becoming beloved by the sports world, winning accolades and finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting why wouldn’t you go along with it? Why wouldn’t you go along with a story that catapulted you from college football star to national celebrity?
We can laugh at him, degrade him, and berate him all we want but the fact of the matter is, he has the potential to be a first-round draft pick. Granted, he did have the opportunity to be a top-five draft pick before this whole hoax but even still, he is closer to his NFL dream than ever before.
He will be the subject of many jokes for the rest of his NFL career, but in the end, he will be living his dream. What if this hoax never happened? Would he be in this position today? Chances are he probably would not be, which is why at the end of the day this hot mess was his benefit.