Honolulu scheduled a big parade Saturday afternoon as a celebration for native son Manti Te'o on the weekend he was drafted into the NFL. The city gave a $2,000 grant for the event, according to Hawaii News Now, and the story said the remaining cost was picked up mainly by residents of Laie and Kahuku.
Tents were set up, food was cooked, but nobody stopped to think about the guest of honor's availability. Oops.
When a player is drafted in the NFL, the team flies him out the next day to meet the coaches, tour the facilities and have a press conference. This happens for practically every high draft pick. Nobody planning the parade in Hawaii could be expected to know that, but it must have been quite the scene when the organizers figured out that Te'o had to be in San Diego when his parade was scheduled. The Chargers selected Te'o, the decorated Notre Dame linebacker, on Friday in the second round of the NFL draft.
The parade went on as planned, Hawaii News Now said.
"It's his party. It's too bad he can't be there," Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell's spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke told Hawaii News Now. "And the family really wanted to express how grateful they are to everyone, and how sorry they are. We even called Manti Te'o's agent to see if there's any way, but unfortunately he's gotta go."
And yes, now is an acceptable time to make any Honolulu mayor catfishing jokes, or jokes about if the organizers knew if Te'o actually existed.
The AP report on Te'o's press conference in San Diego, while the band played on in Honolulu, said he seemed relaxed with the media, and that starts to get at why Te'o landing in San Diego might be a great fit.
He seems to be a good match for the defense, and also in a city that isn't exactly New York or Philadelphia on the intensity or cynicism meter. After a long offseason filled with stories about a hoax on him that involved a fake girlfriend he thought was dead, San Diego is not a bad place for him to relax and play football.
"What I learned from that is you can control certain things and you can't control other things," Te'o said about the last few months. "So, learn to control the things you can and leave the things you can't control up to those people. I was just happy to get out there and share my side of the story, to just tell them that hey, what happened was what happened and what I'm here to do is play football. Hopefully guys saw that."
Te'o was also smart to get on the right foot with the fans by saying the late Junior Seau, a Chargers legend at linebacker, was one of the players who was his biggest influence, along with Ray Lewis. It's easy to see Chargers fans embracing him as a favorite if he plays well this season.
"It starts off with Junior," Te'o said. "Me being a Polynesian-Samoan kid, you look up to Junior. He's a Samoan man who was a trailblazer for kids like me."