UNDATED (AP) — A senior executive at a sports management firm says linebacker Manti Te'o (MAN'-ty TAY'-ow) could have been the most marketable player coming into this year's NFL draft, as the face of a Notre Dame team that had returned to national relevance.
He'd become known for playing through his grief over the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend.
But now it turns out that the girlfriend never existed -- and there are lingering questions about whether Te'o was involved in the hoax, or was just a victim.
David Schwab of the sports management firm Octagon says if it turns out that Te'o wasn't involved, then there could be "zero" long-term damage to his marketability. But in the short term, he says, companies will probably hesitate to hire him -- at least until all of the facts are known.
An NFL draft consultant says the uncertainty could affect a team's willingness to draft Te'o in April. Former Dallas Cowboys GM Gil Brandt says Te'o had become less sought-after since a poor performance in the BCS championship game. And now, he says, his stock could fall further in the eyes of NFL teams.
217-a-13-(Manti Te'o (MAN'-teye TAY'-oh), Notre Dame linebacker, on December 8, 2012, with reporters before the Heisman Trophy ceremony)-"to children's hospitals"-Archive sound of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o on December 8, 2012, telling reporters he works with the Relay for Life cancer charity and visits children's hospitals because he lost relatives and a girlfriend to cancer. COURTESY: WSBT ((mandatory on-air credit)) (17 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *217 (01/17/13)>> 00:13 "to children's hospitals"
192-a-14-(Timothy Burke, Deadspin reporter, in AP interview)-"is completely innocent"-Deadspin reporter Timothy Burke says Manti Te'o may have been the victim of a hoax over the story of the death of his girlfriend, but he has a lot of explaining to do. (17 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *192 (01/17/13)>> 00:14 "is completely innocent"
GRAPHICSBANK: MANTI TE'O headshot, as Notre Dame linebacker, over logo, finished graphic (17 Jan 2013)
APPHOTO INSBE101: In this Sept. 15, 2012 photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o points to the sky as he leaves the field after a 20-3 win against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. In a shocking announcement, Notre Dame said Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose "death" from leukemia was faked by perpetrators of an elaborate hoax. (AP Photo/South Bend Tribune, James Brosher) MANDATORY CREDIT (15 Sep 2012)
<<APPHOTO INSBE101 (09/15/12)>>