Shielded from media, Manti Te’o gains respect from Chargers veterans

The San Diego Chargers have done their best to keep rookie linebacker Manti Te'o from the media as he tries to get his feet under him as an NFL player and avoid ceaseless talk of the well-known catfishing scandal. The "Te'obargo," as Pro Football Talk termed it, has left the local and national scribes relatively unsure of Te'o's NFL progress, but Chargers veterans seem impressed by the efforts of the second-round pick. Some seemed sure that Te'o would be put through his paces and hazed mercilessly regarding the Lennay Kekua story (which you can review here, if you've been on Jupiter for the last six months). But that hasn't happened, and if Te'o keeps doing what he's been doing in his first pro practices, it shouldn't over time.

“I don’t think there will be anything like hazing,” fullback Le'ron McClain recently told Alex Marvez and Jim Miller on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “The guy came in, and he’s been working since he stepped on the field, stepped [up] in the weight room. He’s caught everybody’s eye to see that he’s a great player.

“I just think him handling this situation, everything that was down on him, he was still showing faith. He just wants to play football and be the best player he could be. I don’t even think about the [hoax] no more.”

At the 2013 scouting combine in February, Te'o talked about the idea that he might face an unusual amount of blowback from his new NFL teammates.

"I think I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t control," he said. "And hopefully by doing the things I can control, I’ll have more favor in the other category. Whatever team I go to, I’m just going to be me, I’m going to work hard, and I’m going to do my best to help the team win. And whatever happens, happens."

McClain said that Te'o's new teammates have gone to unusual lengths to make the rookie feel comfortable -- he told Marvez and Miller that a recent verbal exchange with Te'o had nothing to do with the catfishing scandal, and that subject appears to be off-limits for the most part. It would seem that the Chargers are taking the best possible approach at this time -- remove as many pressures as possible, let the kid go, and see what you get. So far, the results have impressed those who are not always easy to impress.

“The sky’s the limit for [Te’o],” McClain said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him on Sundays.”

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