(INDIANAPOLIS) — Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o spoke to the press on Saturday during the NFL Scouting Combine. He continues to deal with the fallout of the bizarre fake girlfriend hoax that has put his NFL draft prospects in jeopardy.
“The incident, I said all I needed to say about that,” Te’o said. “How I’m handing it going forward, it’s doing what I’m doing right now: Focusing on the moment and focusing on football and the combine.”
“I just want to get down to business — that’s how I’d prefer it to be,” he added. “I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t. And I just want the team I go to know that I’m going to work hard, and do my best to help the team win.”
Gil Brandt, a senior analyst on NFL.com, reported that he had dinner with Te’o Friday night and wrote on Twitter that the star linebacker looked “upbeat.”
“Looks ready to face press, circus that will come with it,” wrote Brandt, who also mentioned that Te’o was undecided about attending the draft.
Te’o, 21, has been dealing with intense scrutiny from the press and public after it was revealed that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who supposedly had died of leukemia last fall, actually never existed.
Kekua been manufactured through texts, phone calls and twitter allegedly by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
While some have questioned whether Te’o created the tragedy to garner attention and sympathy, he denied being involved in the deception and has claimed he was the subject of a malicious hoax. Some skeptics also questioned whether Te’o tried to use the story to improve his chances of winning the Heisman trophy, for which he was a finalist.
In an interview with Katie Couric, Te’o said he did not revel in the attention he received after the initial story broke of his girlfriend’s death and that his emotions for the fictional Kekua were real.
“I think for me the only thing I basked in was that I had an impact on people, that people turned to me and for inspiration and I think that was the only thing I focused on. You know my story I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really held strong to his faith, held strong to his family and I felt that that was my story,” said Te’o, who is a Mormon.
Te’o helped to lead the Notre Dame football team through an undefeated regular season that ended when they lost the BCS championship game to the University of Alabama.
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