When the media released information that former Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o never had a girlfriend who died, his draft stock continued to drop. Most experts expected Te’o to be a first-round pick, but he was on the board in round two until the San Diego Chargers chose him with the 38th overall pick.
I expected Te’o’s rookie hazing to consist of jokes being made about him and “Lennay Kekua” from his veteran teammates, but according to an article by Chris Wesseling on nfl.com, this has not been the case.
Chargers fullback Le’Ron McClain said, “I don’t think there will be anything like hazing. The guy came in, and he’s been working since he stepped on the field, stepped in the weight room. He’s caught everybody’s eye to see that he’s a great player. The sky’s the limit for him. I’m looking forward to seeing him on Sundays.”
San Diego was one of 18 NFL teams that did not have a winning record last season, which is one of the reasons why it was a great spot for Te’o to land. When a team finishes the season with a losing record like San Diego, winning games becomes more important than teasing a guy about his personal life.
Teams like Houston and Denver who finished 12-4 and 13-3 last year can get away with insulting a rookie about his personal life because chances are that he would not stop them from making the playoffs if he plays poorly. San Diego needs Te’o to perform at a high level because he is expected to start at the Mike linebacker spot.
Te’o himself said that he expected jokes to come his way about the fake girlfriend created by a man who was in love with him, but it has not been an issue so far in his short time with the Chargers.