With the Senior Bowl this weekend and the NFL scouting combine right around the corner, NFL executives are doing their best to understand the bizarre situation surrounding Manti Te’o and his fake girlfriend.
[Related: Instant reaction: Manti Te'o tells his story]
Last week, news broke that Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, whom he championed as his inspiration following her death in September, was fictional. It was a hoax many, including Te'o, believe was concocted by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo for reasons yet to be disclosed.
Many NFL execs hanging out at the Senior Bowl were asked about the highly publicized hoax and were perplexed by the entire situation.
"It's a little bit mind-boggling to think what did happen, what he did know," Broncos executive vice president John Elway said. "He's going to get asked about it probably 32 times at the combine. Everyone is going to ask him about it. It's hard for us to understand why he wouldn't know?"
Elway was one of the few NFL execs who actually understood the scenario. Many of them didn’t know the term "catfishing" and one said there wasn’t enough information out there to form an accurate opinion.
"It's probably odd to old people like me who really don't know how to use that kind of stuff," New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "It wasn't odd to my kids. There are shows about it, I guess.
“We call that situation in our room 'NMI.' You know what that stands for? Need more information. We don't rush to judge anything. I don't know the details, but there's probably been worse things."
[Related: Mastermind was also voice of Kekua]
This is true. Many draftees have been accused and even convicted of crimes. Te’o’s only crime was being too ignorant to see he was being played. Even when his dead girlfriend called him and told him she had to fake her death to escape drug dealers, he still believed the story. That alone will bring his judgment into question.
"It's a little odd to me, but again it's NMI,” Reese said. “We think he's a good football player, so we'll see."
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