With all of the hubbub surrounding Tim Tebow signing with the New England Patriots, it seems the media has temporarily forgotten about its other favorite storyline. Manti Te’o has been off limits for the media during the bulk of his time with the San Diego Chargers thus far, but his silence was recently broken for the first time since the team’s rookie minicamp on May 10th. Thankfully the questions that the linebacker faced all pertained to football (finally), and the answers should be exciting for fans of the Chargers.
When asked about the Chargers keeping him away from the media, Te’o said:
“Coach and the organization had a plan for me. That plan was to prepare me the best way for the season. We’re out here for football. I think that’s the bottom line. The plan was for me to focus on football, focus on getting my head in the playbook and just trying to make that transition as quickly as possible. I definitely have reaped the benefits of that and am thankful that I’ve had the time to just focus on the plays and focus on what goes on on the field. That has definitely helped me improve each day.”
There has been a great deal of undue attention paid to linebacker Manti Te’o in the past handful of months after the fake girlfriend fiasco that took the media by storm. The former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy candidate has moved on to the world of the NFL now, and his outlook could not be brighter.
Aside from the off-field stuff that weighed down Te’o’s draft stock, several questions surfaced about his speed and ability to adjust to the game at the next level. Despite all of the quality work that Te’o had put on film for the past few seasons, some found a way to simply fixate on a down game in the National Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Clearly Te’o knows it won’t be as easy to excel in the NFL as it was during his collegiate days. When asked about the biggest adjustments that he has been focusing on in his transition to the professional level, the linebacker said:
“The speed, there are guys that are faster, but for the most part, speed isn’t the biggest thing. It’s how everybody is technically sound. For young guys you’ve just got to learn. You can’t just run off blocks, you can’t just run through a hole. You’ve got to use techniques when you do the simple things. It’s those guys who are great at this game who have mastered those little things.”
The coaches and players alike have all grown to appreciate the attitude that Te’o brings to work on a daily basis. His approach to the game of always trying to improve is exactly what the Chargers anticipated by drafting the young man out of South Bend. Perhaps his best comment pertained to that issue when he answered what is the most important thing he’s learned from the veterans. Te’o said:
“The worst thing you can do is be somebody that they have to push. And so for me, one of the strengths has always been my work ethic.”
It’s been a lengthy hiatus for Te’o from the media spotlight, but his first interview in a month was well worth the wait. The lingering concerns about his off-field issue will quickly vanish once he hits the field and starts doing his job as the inside linebacker position on a regular basis. It seems like that strategy to protect Te’o from the media has really paid dividends for the Bolts and allowed him to grow into his role as a professional during the offseason. Look for the Chargers to reap the rewards of their tactics fully when week one arrives this September.