NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt believes the uncertainty surrounding Manti Te’o could affect when he is selected in April by a team.
Brandt called the story that Notre Dame’s All-American linebacker was involved in a hoax “something I have never witnessed” in his half-century in pro football.
“I think some teams will say it isn’t worth the problem” to draft Te’o, said Brandt, who has the linebacker rated 19th overall in the first round.
The former Dallas Cowboys general manager added Thursday that Te’o’s stock had plummeted after a poor performance in the BCS championship game. Now, Te’o could fall further.
“I don’t think anybody considered him to be a top-five pick before all this happened,” Brandt said. “In that game against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can’t even hit the backboard. His play in that game was absolutely horrible. He missed on run blitzes; guys ran over him …”
David Schwab, a senior executive at sports management firm Octagon, considered Te’o perhaps the most marketable player coming into this year’s draft. As the face of a Notre Dame team that returned to national relevance, the Heisman Trophy runner-up had the name recognition of few college stars.
“Compassionate” and “heartwarming” were some of the adjectives Schwab would have used to describe his image.
Now, that persona will depend on the details that emerge about the story of a girlfriend who didn’t exist.
“If he truly had nothing to do with it, I think the long-term damage is zero,” said Schwab, who specializes in matching companies to celebrities.
In the short term, it’s unlikely to see Te’o promoting any products, because a public appearance would turn into an impromptu news conference about the hoax. If uncertainty lingers about exactly what happened, Schwab said, many companies may hesitate to sign him.
But even if Te’o is implicated in the hoax, he could still eventually turn into a sponsor’s dream if he blossoms as an NFL star.