NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As it currently stands, linebacker Manti Te’o’s fate in the upcoming NFL Draft seems to be up in the air.
But when he does begin his career in the National Football League, how will he be treated in the locker room by his fellow teammates?
Texans defensive end Antonio Smith gave a glimpse of what life could be like for the 22-year-old next season, and it isn’t pretty.
“Our locker room is full of clowns and, oh man, people would kill him,” Smith said on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk. “I mean, he would be the butt of every joke for at least two, three years.”
The Texans have the 27th pick in the draft, and it’s quite conceivable that Te’o could fall to the reigning AFC South champions.
Every locker room is different, but it’s likely that the 2012 Maxwell Award winner will have to deal with some harassment wherever he winds up.
Smith is of the opinion that Te’o will simply have to accept the punishment and take it in stride.
“You just got to be a good sport, man,” Smith said. “It is what it is, and you know it is out now — it’s out in the papers and on TV. So all you can do now, you can’t worry about it. You can’t change it, all you can do now is laugh — laugh with us while we’re laughing at you.”
Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway gave a straightforward assessment regarding Te’o last week in a post-combine video interview posted to the Jets’ official website. He admitted that the situation surrounding Te’o is “unusual” and it “scares you a little bit.”
“Well, it is an unusual situation, that’s for sure,” Bradway said. “I feel bad for him. I mean, the stress of the situation has to have had an impact on his training somehow. I think he’s going to run faster than that at his pro day at the end of March … You know, he’s a good football player and I know a lot of us gave him pretty good grades. But when you look at the Alabama game and you look at what’s happened since, it just scares you a little bit.”
Te’o didn’t meet expectations in the aforementioned BCS title game against Alabama in January — a 42-14 loss in which the linebacker missed several tackles.
Does Te’o have what it takes to make it in the NFL, both mentally and physically? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…