Manti Te'o Press Conference: Contrite and seemingly genuine, Te'o speaks to the media

Jonathan Daniel

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o speaks to the media for the first time since news was revealed his supposed girlfriend wasn't real.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was contrite and confident in addressing the media in a press conference held for him at the NFL Combine Saturday.

The questions surrounding him and his alleged relationship with a fake person - someone he never met - have come with an enormous level of criticism and scrutiny for the Heisman Trophy finalist.

Te'o spoke with the media for roughly 20 minutes, answering several dozen questions. He kept his answers short, and they were largely expected.

He deflected most direct questions about the incident and the follow-up questions regarding how he's handled it.

"I said all I needed to say about it. I'm handling it by just focusing on football," he said in response to the first question regarding the incident he was asked.

Te'o said he's already met with the Texans and the Packers, and he said he'll meet with 18 more teams at the Combine. He didn't say whether one of those were the Steelers, but the team does have a need for depth, if not a starter, at inside linebacker. Te'o is expected to be available when the Steelers are on the clock with the No. 17 pick.

He was asked a direct question about the possibility of being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, and replacing LB Ray Lewis, who retired after the team's Super Bowl championship in February.

"Ray Lewis is the kind of linebacker I strive to be," he said. "He has the talent, the leadership, everything you'd want in a player. If I went there, there would be some pretty big shoes to fill, that's for sure."

It always comes down to how much of what a troubled player says is believable, against his production on the field. Obviously, no team wants the embarrassment. They don't want to invest millions in a player who's going to cost them more in bad publicity. Regardless if he's being 100 percent truthful, a team will take him in the first round if he shows he's willing to accept their guidance.

The major reason for that is, outside of the whole bizarre situation, he's never found himself in any kind of trouble. There's nothing here suggesting it's a pattern.

There's something to be said about the fact he is facing the media, even if it comes well after the incident broke. He answered everything as well as could be expected, so perhaps this boosts his stock in the eyes of most.

It will only matter to a handful of teams who will have him high on their boards, perhaps higher than where they're picking.

The linebackers will go through their drills on Monday.

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