There are two sides to every story and this one is no different even if it is ridiculously bizarre. Highly touted draft prospect and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o is either the victim of an incredibly terrible hoax or he perpetrated an extremely strange fraud.
During this past season Manti Te'o had one of the most heart tugging stories of the year when he lost his Grandma and his girlfriend on the same day. Well the Grandma was real but the girlfriend very much turned out not to be.
Now that this hoax has been uncovered the question becomes how much involvement was there for Te'o in this. Was he a poor naive kid who was duped into falling in love with a fake person or was this a lie for the positive publicity garnered about Manti's character?
Whichever side you fall on for that question probably greatly effects how you feel about Manti Te'o's draft stock. The next question is how does this story effect how you feel as a Raider fan about drafting this young man?
After being burned badly by Jamarcus Russell and Rolando McClain because of character issues there is definitely a need to pause on selecting Te'o now. There is no doubt that the Raiders have to be watching this scene very, very closely and they can not waste another high draft pick.
Whether he was involved or not I have to believe that his draft stock is going to take a hit. It already had taken a hit with his poor performance in the BCS National Championship game and now this. He might not even be picked in the 1st round when all the smoke clears.
Teams are likely either to feel that Te'o was too gullible in falling for this hoax or that he must have been involved. If they feel either one of those feelings then it has to effect where they will choose him. The only saving grace for him would be if a team feels that this situation has made him mentally stronger.
So how do you now feel about Manti Te'o? Would you still draft him in the first round? I assume just about everybody agrees that he can't be taken with the 3rd overall pick but would you still be willing to trade back and target Te'o?
I definitely have to pause on targeting him with the Raiders first round pick now. If he really was a victim I could live with selecting him in the first but if he was involved I would have to question drafting him at all.
Something that does make me feel like Te'o might legitimately be a victim is the statement from Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. There was even a point where Jack, a former lawyer, actually got emotional while describing the effect this has had on Te'o. He unequivocally defended Manti and believes he was a victim of an extremely sick joke.
Mr. Swarbrick is no fool and for him to stand by Te'o is a very strong statement on Manti's behalf. If he didn't 100% believe in Te'o he would not have put his name and the school of Notre Dame squarely behind Manti. Whether that belief in Te'o is from believing in Manti's story or simply from the love he has for Te'o gained over time I don't know.
Let me know how you feel in the comments section. Should the Raiders still be interested in targeting Manti Te'o in the first round?