Te’o fielded another 32 questions over a 141
2-minute span, most of them related to the revelation that the story of his late girlfriend’s illness and death during his senior season at Notre Dame turned out to be untrue and that the girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed. Te’o, who had given three
interviews since January, remained composed throughout, though several times his voice wavered.
When further prodded about the hoax, he offered only: “I would say, I cared for somebody, and that’s what I was taught to do, ever since I was young. If someone needs help, you help them out, and unfortunately, it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”
Asked why he continue to lie about the existence of Kekua for several days after he said he learned he had been duped, Te’o said: “Just, it was just a whirlwind of stuff. For me, 22-year-old, 21 at that time, you’re just trying to get your thoughts right. Everybody’s just kind of chaos for a bit, so you let the chaos die down, and wait until everybody’s ready to listen.”
Te’o said the toughest moment during the controversy “was a phone call that I got from my sister. She told me that they had to sneak my own family in their home because there were people parked in the yard and stuff like that. . . .Something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it and knowing I can’t help, and knowing that my family was in that situation because of the actions that I committed was definitely the hardest part for me.”
He said he will not press charges against Roniaiah Tuiasosopo, the man allegedly responsible for the hoax.
“I think that’s the worst thing you can do,” he said. “Both families are going through chaos. . . . And so I always try to forgive. If you forgive, you’ll get a majority of the blessings, so I always try to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”
Te’o had already spent Friday, the combine’s first day, running a gantlet of medical and psychological exams and informal meetings with several NFL teams. The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers had already given him formal interviews — closed-door meetings during which a player is grilled for 15 minutes by members of a team’s front office and coaching staff on football and personal matters. Te’o said he had another 18 scheduled. Only then would he finally be able to get to work out for talent evaluators.