The NFL is all about star power. Teams love having stars. Because while as fans we want to see our teams win, teams also understand the goal is to bring people in and make money.
The 2013 NFL draft is no different. Stars dominate the headlines, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is one of the stars of this group. Tragically, he’s not a star only for his play on the field, but also for all of the off-field drama he went through this season.
Where Te’o would be drafted was a point of much debate, varying from the first round to the third round according to pundits. There is no doubt his game had some shortcomings and for me, that’s always been the biggest issue about his NFL future.
The whole catfish controversy is secondary to me — any draft where a malcontent like cornerback Tyrann Mathieu can be drafted in the third round tells me that if you can play, character really isn’t a big deal.
Te’o finally found a landing spot when the San Diego Chargers traded up to the 38th pick in the draft and snatched up their future starting inside linebacker.
The draft universe was in a bit of an uproar with Te’o fans praising the move by the Chargers. His critics went on the attack about the trade-up and his lack of ability. Then, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper went to next level and said he’d be the same type of player for the Chargers that Junior Seau was.
My take — if there was ever a team that would be a great fit for Te’o from both a football and a non-football perspective, it’s probably in San Diego. He’s close to where he went to college, close to friends and family both real and imaginary, and he’s going to a 3-4 defense where he can be that inside thumper type to stop the run.
I’ve never hated Te’o as a player, and think he can have a long, successful career in the NFL. The best advice I can give him as far as the other stuff goes is to have fun with it and move past it. He should let his play on the field be the only thing people will want to talk about, and he’ll be just fine.