|Te'o Says NFL Teams Interested, Despite Hoax|
|By GILLIAN MOHNEY (@gillianmohney)||Feb 23, 2013, 12:36 PM|
All the controversy about Manti Te'o's position in a bizarre hoax apparently hasn't diminished NFL interest in the star Notre Dame linebacker who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Te'o told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine today that he has already met with two teams and has interviews scheduled with 18 more. Neither team seemed especially intested in the hoax that captured so much media attention, he said.
Appearing relaxed but eager to put the scandal behind him, Te'o told reporters that the chaos surrounding the hoax was occasionally "overwhelming" for him and his family.
"It's definitely embarrassing," Te'o said of the scandal. "You walk into grocery stores and you get double-takes."
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 maintained that he was the subject of a malicious hoax.
But the scandal seems not to have significantly diminished Te'o's NFL draft prospects. He told reporters that he had already met with officials from the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers, and was scheduled to meet with officials from 18 more.
Te'o told reporters that officials from both teams asked about the hoax.
"They've all just wanted to hear from me what the truth was," Te'o said. "They haven't said anything about it affecting me."
The 22-year-old said he was unconcerned that the scandal could affect his relationship with his future teammates.
"I'm just looking forward to getting straight to football," said Te'o. "I've answered everything I could and I really want to talk about football."
The star linebacker also took responsibility for his widely criticized performance in the BCS championship game, which Notre Dame lost to the University of Alabama 42-14.
"That's all on me," said Te'o. "Alabama had a great game plan ... they executed it better than we did."
Te'o also shot down speculation that he would bring legal action against Tuiasosopo, saying both of their families were "going through chaos."