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January 24th, 2013
10:50 AM ET

Will Manti Te'o be able to convince people that he was duped in the girlfriend hoax? NFL expert panel weighs in

On Thursday, those looking for answers regarding the bizarre story surrounding Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend might finally get them. The football star and his parents will officially break their silence when a taped exclusive interview with ABC News' Katie Couric premieres concerning the hoax first brought to light by sports blog Deadspin. During the interview Te'o's father Brian stuck up for the football player saying pretty adamantly that his son is not a liar.

This morning a panel of NFL experts join “Starting Point” to weigh in on the new developments, Te’o’s career and whether or not the 21-year-old football star was actually duped.

Sports Agent Doug Eldridge says Te’o’s future is a question of performance versus perception.

“It’s a question of how is Manti going to perform on the field," Eldridge says. "This is no longer a scouting issue. It’s a personnel issue.” He adds that NFL teams need to employ their investigation units to “look behind the scenes and [see] what really went into this.” On the perception side relating to Te’o’s marketability and future endorsements Eldridge says, “It’s a question of fan perception” and how they view him and his role in the hoax.

Former Atlanta Falcons NFL Player Chris Draft says as a football player the hoax is “a huge amount of pressure for Manti but he dealt with a lot of pressure throughout the season.” He adds that while the linebacker seemed affected during the 2013 BCS Championship game against Alabama, his poor performance was not necessarily all due to the scandal. Ultimately, Draft says Te’o “has to deal with it – he has to deal with it right now.”

ESPN Senior Writer and CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson says Te’o should have dealt with the situation weeks ago. “In December it makes all the sense in the world to me. In January that makes no sense in the world to me...Why would you let a month go by before you, before the University of Notre Dame, before your father who’s teary-eyed and saying you’re not a liar – why would you let a month go by before Deadspin outed you with this story?”

Filed under: Football • Manti Te'o • Sports
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