Manti Te’o helped fellow Chargers rookie D.J. Fluker overcome fear of drowning

Frank Schwab
July 28, 2013

One of the main storylines between the time Manti Te'o's girlfriend was exposed as a hoax and the NFL draft was how Te'o would be accepted in a NFL locker room after that mess.

There were some who swore he'd be an outsider his whole career. That doesn't seem to be the case in San Diego, which drafted Te'o in the second round.

All reports from San Diego regarding Te'o and his teammates have been positive, and the Union-Tribune had an interesting story about how Te'o helped fellow rookie D.J. Fluker get over his fear of drowning and learn to swim.

The story said Fluker, an offensive tackle from Alabama, sank to the bottom of a pool when he was 4. He was saved by his mother but had a fear of drowning after that.

At the rookie symposium, Te'o was swimming laps and Fluker was in the shallow end when Te'o taught him to get over his fear.

"I was terrified of water," Fluker told the Union-Tribune. "He was like, ‘Man, relax. I got you.'"

Te'o held Fluker up in the water while he taught him how to kick his legs and move his arms to swim. It took a few tries, but eventually Fluker got it.

Remember that most of the pre-Lennay Kekua stories about Te'o talked about him being a tremendous leader for Notre Dame. He seems to be doing everything right in San Diego so far. Here's what the Union-Tribune wrote about how he is fitting in:

"Te’o has been a quiet workman. His approach to training, on and off the practice field, has earned him respect in the Chargers’ locker room. While deferring the vocal role to such veterans as inside linebacker Donald Butler, he’ll talk to teammates with the goal of bringing people together."

There was a moment earlier in camp when Te'o was talking to the media at the podium when safety Eric Weddle cut him off and playfully told him to "get in and watch some film or something."

"Love you!" Weddle said to him as he left.

It was the kind of joke a veteran wouldn't do to a player he didn't like.

"He's doing great," Weddle said after telling Te'o his time with the media was up. "He doesn't seem like a typical rookie. He's eager to learn, extremely talented, instincts are off the charts obviously, that's why we brought him in."

Thankfully, there hasn't been much chatter about Te'o's fake girlfriend fiasco since he was drafted. His teammates seem to like him, and he appears to be fitting in just fine. Whether Te'o will be a great linebacker remains to be seen, but it seems the analysis of how the off-field stuff would affect his NFL future was more than a little overdone.

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