The San Diego Chargers chose former Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o in round two of the 2013 NFL Draft. Te’o was involved in a fake girlfriend hoax while he was at Notre Dame, and it is almost a guarantee that jokes about him and the nonexistent Lennay Kekua will be a part of his rookie hazing.
It was revealed that Te’o did not have a girlfriend named Lennay Kekua who died as everyone was told, but that was created by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who claimed to fall in love with Te’o.
Tuiasosopo used a picture of a woman and had conversations on the phone with Te’o pretending to be a woman named Lennay Kekua, but Te’o claimed he did not know that Tuiasosopo created Kekua.
If I were Te’o, I would embrace the jokes that will more than likely come his way. If one of his veteran teammates asks “What did you do last night?”, he could respond by saying “I went out on a date with Lennay.” Te’o could also come into the locker room with a ring box and say that he plans on proposing to Kekua. If he goes this route, it could win over some of his veteran teammates with humor.
Te’o’s draft stock fell after an embarrassing performance in the 2013 National Title Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, and his character was brought in question due to the Kekua hoax.
Even though Te’o’s draft stock dropped from a potential top five or top 10 pick, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay predicted that he would be chosen by the Chicago Bears with the 20th pick in round one.
Te’o will ultimately be judged by his coaches and teammates based on his play on the field, but embracing the Kekua jokes could also help him bond with his teammates.