INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The crowd of media at Manti Te'o's Saturday press conference might be the biggest in recent combine history. Bigger than Ryan Mallett's, bigger than Cam Newton's, bigger than even Tim Tebow's.
This weekend media meet was the first group interview T'eo has done since he was "catfished." It was inevitable he'd be bombarded by scrutiny. Yes, T'eo is a talented linebacker who went to the 2012 national title game with Notre Dame. But he lost the right to that billing when the 'Fake Girlfriend scandal' implicated him as either a liar or gullible.
Te'o performed well on Saturday. He appeared relaxed and humbled before the media hoard. Granted, he's had weeks to prepare for the combine and that includes his 14 minute presser.
Here are the first five minutes of Te'o's Q&A.
Q: What's up? How are you?
TE'O: I'm tired. It was a long day of exams. Medical exams. It's all part of the process.
Q: Are you tired or answering questions about incident?
TE'O: Yeah, about the incident… I've said all I needed to say about that. How I'm handling it going forward is doing what I'm doing right now. Focusing on the moment and focusing on football and the combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I'm sure there are thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment.
Q: How much have you been asked about it by teams?
TE'O: Quite a few teams asked me about it. Some go to certain lengths -- some just ask me and give me a brief overview of how it was and then they just get straight to business about football.
Q: Why didn't you play well in the national championship game against Alabama?
TE'O: That's cause I didn't. That's something... I played hard and so did my team, but Alabama had a great game plan and so did we. It was just, they executed better than we did.
Q: Was your situation a distraction leading to the game?
Q: Did any teams not ask you about it?
TE'O: [Laughs ruefully] No. They all asked me about it.
Q: What have they been asking, exactly?
TE'O: They just say 'Tell me the facts.' They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened.
Q: What were facts in the case? A summary of what happened.
TE'O: I was in ... I cared for somebody and that was what I was taught to do. Ever since I was young -- when someone needs help, you help them out. Unfortunately, it didn't end up the way I thought it would.
Q: What was the whole experience like?
TE'O: It was just a whirlwind of stuff for me. I'm a 21-year-old at that time, and I was just trying to get my thoughts right. Everything was just chaos for a little bit, so you just let the chaos die down and wait until everybody is ready to listen.
Q: Why did you wait so long to come out with this story?
TE'O: That I don't know. It took a while to come out. I think from my point of view, we wanted to let everything come out first and have my side come out. So the way that we did it, I felt worked best for me. I'm just very grateful for those who helped me get through because I think it went as smoothly as it could.
Q: Do you get any sense from NFL people that this might affect your draft standing?
TE'O: No, not really. They've told me that they all just want to hear from me what the truth was, and they haven't really said anything about it affecting me. Some guys talk ... I'll briefly describe for 30 seconds, and the next 14 minutes, it's all plays and just getting down to business. That's how I prefer it to be.
Q: Do you worry about how you'll be treated in the league?
TE'O: No. I think I've learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can't control. And hopefully, by doing the things I can control well, I'll have more favor in the other category. But whatever team I go to, I'm just going to be me -- I'm going to work hard and just do my best to help the team win, and no matter what happens, happens.
Q: Are you surprised at the media fascination right now?
TE'O: [Laughs] It's pretty crazy. I've been in front of a few camera, but not as many as this.
Q: What about when it came out?
TE'O: I think the hardest part, and I've said, to see ... not necessarily my first name, but my last name. Everybody here, you treasure your last name. That's what you hold dear. That's something that when you pass on, the only thing that stays with you -- stays here -- is your last name. And to see my last name everywhere and to know that I represented my family and all my cousins and aunties and uncles.
Q: What's been the hardest part of this whole experience?
TE'O: The toughest part was a phone call that I got from my sister. She told me that my family had to be snuck into my home because media was camped out on the lawn and in the driveway.
Q: Why was that so hard?
TE'O: This is why. It should never get that way. As people we have to realize that we're all people -- somebody's son, somebody's daughter. Would you want somebody doing that to your son? Would you want people doing that to your daughter?