Former NFL coach Tony Dungy said he would have a lot of questions to ask Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o before spending a first-round pick on him in April’s NFL Draft. And he expects most NFL executives will share the same opinion in light of the bizarre story about Te’o claiming to be the victim of an Internet hoax in which a woman he identified as a girlfriend who died of leukemia never existed.
“If I was still coaching and we’re thinking about taking this guy in the first round, you want to know not (only) exactly what happened, but what is going on with this young man and is it going to be a deterrent to him surviving in the NFL. Is it going to stop him from being a star?,” Dungy said today at the Gaylord Texan Resort, where he is scheduled to receive the Theodore Roosevelt Award tonight as part of ceremonies at the NCAA Convention.
Te’o had been projected as a first-round pick in most mock drafts, with several analysts placing him among the top 10 selections, before the incident surfaced earlier this week. Asked what advice he would give to Te’o in efforts to rebuild his NFL stock, Dungy said: “I always advise people to face up to it and just talk to people and say what happened. The truth is the best liberator. So that’s what I would do. And he’s going to get questioned about it a lot.”
Asked how much this is likely to impact the player’s draft position, Dungy said: “It depends on what is going to happen … When something like this happens that isn’t standard, that isn’t par for the course, how do you deal with it? And growing up is a big part of it. It’s all part of the process.”
_ Jimmy Burch