Manti Te’o breaks month-long silence, discusses championship loss

San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o (50) practices during mini-camp held at the Chargers' facility Tuesday.
(Denis Poroy / Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO — Even though he has his gaze set on his future with the San Diego Chargers, Manti Te’o has taken a backward glance – but only one – at Notre Dame’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the national championship game.

“Honestly, I’ve only gone back [and watched it] once,” Te’o said Tuesday at Chargers minicamp, in his first public comments since May 10. “That kind of stuff you don’t want to see too much. But definitely you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins. For me, the biggest thing I could learn from that game is to take each play for each play. Don’t worry about a series. Don’t worry about, ‘Man, we need to get a three-and-out.’ Take advantage of each play that you’re out there.”

The Chargers’ new regime – led by Coach Mike McCoy and General Manager Tom Telesco – had made Te’o off limits to the media, reasoning the controversial second-round pick would be best served by quietly burying his nose in the playbook.


“The plan was for me to focus on football, focus on me getting my head in the playbook and just trying to make that transition as quickly as possible,” said Te’o, who last spoke to reporters on the first day of rookie mini-camp. “I definitely have reaped the benefits of that.”

San Diego teammate Antonio Gates, who frequently has run routes against Te’o in practice, said he’s unconcerned about the linebacker’s shaky performance in that championship game.

“That was just one game,” the All-Pro tight end said. “You can’t use that to judge his whole career. Alabama made everybody look bad. Alabama, that’s like a professional team.”

Likewise, Gates said he’s not worried about Te’o’s unimpressive numbers from the scouting combine in February.

“I told family members that asked questions about the team, ‘The kid can play,’” tight end Antonio Gates said. “People have underestimated his ability to play football. Everything is so caught up in the combine and, ‘What’s your 40 time? What’s your vertical? What’s your shuttle time? What did you bench press?’ The fact of the matter is, when you play football it’s instincts. You can get a dog to run and jump, but he can’t come out here and play football.”


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