Many questions were left unanswered from the catfishing incident involving former NFL player Manti Te'o. He was ultimately the victim of a scheme in which his supposed online girlfriend pretended to die of leukemia. The linebacker had nothing to do with it, but his image, reputation and career prospects suffered.
One of the questions that arose from the controversy was whether or not Te'o was gay. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio went on record stating that NFL teams wanted to know if he was. They likely assumed that he made up the girlfriend as a way to prevent people from learning his true sexuality.
In 2013, Katie Couric sat down with the linebacker and grilled him on everything. She implied that the Notre Dame product was incredibly naive and caught in an insane web of lies.
To that point, the linebacker remained cool, calm and collected, but when she simply asked him if he was gay, he got a little bit defensive, saying:
“No, far from it. Far from it."
And that was it. Nothing more on the subject. However, the words he chose and the way he answered left many with doubts. But what was concerning was that there was a feeling that he couldn't answer yes, even if he had wanted to. The sporting world has long been criticized for being passively hostile to homosexuality and the NFL is no different.
Mike Florio believes this answer was an indictment on the NFL. He appeared on the Dan Patrick show in 2013. Here's what he said:
"That may say a lot about how a gay player would be treated in the National Football League. Although there have been encouraging stories recently about more accepting attitudes in NFL locker rooms, we may still be a long way off from a day when a football player could answer the question, 'Are you gay?' with a simple, 'Yes' and not fear being shunned by teammates, downgraded by coaches and heckled by fans."
Today, there are a few openly gay athletes. They are, however, subjected to abuse by many. Carl Nassib, the NFL's first openly gay active player, was recently signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and received some backlash.
Manti Te'o's NFL career
Before the scandal broke, the Notre Dame star had the world at his feet. He was a Heisman finalist, which is wildly impressive for a defensive player. He was also an award-winning linebacker. He carried Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship, though they were then obliterated by Alabama.
Manti Te'o had incredible potential and could have been one of the NFL's top linebackers. Instead, he started just 48 games during his career and is currently not signed to an NFL roster.
Te'o was selected in the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played with the Chargers for four seasons before joining the New Orleans Saints. After three years with the Saints, he joined the Chicago Bears for one season but did not play a snap.
It could be argued that Te'o's career was derailed by a catfishing scheme instigated by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Though he managed to feature in a lot of NFL games, he didn't hit the heights that many had been predicting.
If you use any of the above quotes, please credit Pro Football Talk, the Dan Patrick Show and H/T Sportskeeda