In playing 51 games at Notre Dame, predominantly in the middle of the Irish defense, Manti Te’o rarely found himself far from center stage.
Today will be no different at Lucas Oil Stadium. Te’o will be the focus of attention by a healthy percentage of the 800-plus credentialed media at the combine.
It will be anything but off-Broadway, or off-Capitol Street in the case of Indianapolis.
There have been interview attractions through the years. Before players were put into a podium structure, they were backed into corners of hotel areas while media pounced.
In 1998, Peyton Manning was up against wall in the restaurant of the Holiday Inn Crowne Center as NFL scribes worked him over. Manning handled it with his typical aplomb for 20 minutes. Last year, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III held structured availabilities that drew masses.
Today, Te’o may set a record.
Te’o will cut through the crowd to address questions likely not too related to his measurables. It will be necessary for the personal matter he has endured over the past few weeks.
Players from Notre Dame are famous for their poise. Te’o should play his own game. He has done well to this point in a difficult situation, and observers should expect nothing different today.
Personnel evaluators will have their chances with him in private interviews. Many, such as John Elway, were prominent collegians, too. They remember the challenges of youth, and they now are charged with bringing young adults into a very professional, competitive business.
“I just want to talk to him,” said Elway. “Personally, I don’t get caught up in everything that is swirling around him. I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him.
“I know him as a football player. He’s a very good football player. He’s going to have a successful career in the NFL.”
Today will not be the first time Te’o has been in this public position, and it won’t be his last.
Former teammate Tyler Eifert drew less notice on Friday when he met with combine media, and he feels Te’o is holding up well.
“Manti is one of my good friends and he’s a good person with a good heart. He’s just got stuck in a bad situation,” said Eifert. “He’s doing great. I’m sure he’ll be a little bit nervous, but there is nothing for him to be nervous about. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of questions about it. He’s a smart, smart guy. He didn’t do anything wrong. But he’ll be able to answer those questions.”
Tags: John Elway, Manti Te'o, Peyton Manning, Tyler Eifert
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Denver had an excitingly difficult season in 2012, going 13-3, owning home-field playoff advantage and then losing in overtime in the first round, giving up a late long touchdown pass in regulation.
The Broncos watched Baltimore move on to win Super Bowl XLVII, and General Manager John Elway remembers the feeling. He wants his team to do so, too.
“I don’t want to forget last year. I don’t want our team to forget it,” said Elway. “I want them to realize it was a great year, but also forget the feeling of what happened in the playoff game. Be able to learn from it. Hopefully, we can build on it and get better as we did in ’96. 1997 and 1998 were (Super Bowl-winning) years. I hope we can learn like we did (back then).”
Elway is earning his spurs as a league executive. He is competing in a division with two new head coaches, including Andy Reid in Kansas City.
Elway feels better at this combine than at past combines with the state of his roster, but now is no time to feel safe.
“We have to get better because everybody is. 13-3 is not good enough,” said Elway. “It was nice we won the division and had home-field advantage but when you lose in the first round of the playoffs, you have to get better.
“We have to learn to play in the post-season. You can be good in the regular season and I said it last year, ‘We make our money in the regular season. You make your legacy in the post-season as a player.’
“That’s why what we experienced in the first round was important. You have to be tough. The expectations rise. You don’t have next week. You have to learn to play with sudden death, which is, ‘There is no next week.’ That’s why great teams flourish in the playoffs.”
Elway won titles in his final two seasons. His quarterback, Peyton Manning, has one title in an illustrious career.
Elway watched Manning star in the same city where he shaped his own legacy.
“He had a tremendous year. Talking to other guys who have been through what he’s been through with that neck, there was a lot more to it than I knew,” said Elway. “I think he exceeded expectations now that I know what he had to go through, not so much physically but mentally.
“He did a tremendous job. I’m looking forward to next year, too. I think he’s going to get better. … Peyton had a lot to do with where we (were.)”
Elway feels quarterbacks now entering the league are better prepared than before. His school turned one out in Andrew Luck, and Elway is among many who anticipate next year’s Colts-Broncos clash in Indianapolis.
“It will be special. I’m sure it will be special for Peyton,” said Elway. “Any time you spend as long as Peyton did in Indianapolis and the relationship he has, to go somewhere else and play had to be tough.
“Those are two guys (Luck and Manning) I have a great amount of respect for. Andrew coming out was as good as there’s been in a long time. You saw that last year in the year he had. He was tremendous. They go from 2-14 to 11-5, not only with Ryan Grigson doing a great job but with what Andrew did.”
Tags: Denver Broncos, indianapolis colts, John Elway, Peyton Manning, ryan grigson
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