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Manti Te’o’s Image Calamity

I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat – yes, I’m stunned; no, I can’t believe it either; and yes, Sunday’s loss is going to sting for a long time. As an Atlanta sports fan you would think I’d be desensitized to these mammoth collapses and choke-jobs by now, but every single one hurts just as bad as the last. I felt it necessary to address this up front, and hopefully experience some sort of therapeutic catharsis by putting it into words.

As misery loves company, I can at least take solace in the fact that there may be one person currently having a rougher time in the world of sports than me, and that would be Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. In a story that has more bizarre twists and turns than a David Lynch film, the prodigious linebacker from South Bend has found himself the undesired focal point of the national conversation.

I’ll spare you the salacious details, because by the end of this sentence the story will have changed once more – but suffice to say this has disrupted the Heisman runner-up’s plans as he prepares for the NFL draft. Was the nonexistent/dead girlfriend saga borne of an elaborate hoax that Te’o actively participated in, or is this simply a case of twenty-something naiveté and a cruel prank that snowballed? Sports analysts are drawing their own conclusions, and until Manti makes the decision to shed some light on this extremely murky ordeal, they will continue to do so.

It will be interesting to see how this affects Te’o’s draft-stock. A virtual lock as a top-five pick prior to the emergence of this story (which typically involve hefty signing-bonuses), many now wonder if his value has plummeted out of the first round. Do potential character flaws trump natural athletic prowess?

Protecting your image and personal branding should be on the top of your list of priorities, because as the public’s opinion of you falls, so does the amount you receive on your checks. What steps should Te’o take to ensure he is career is not defined by this odd story? Provide your thoughts in the comments section!

-Carter Breazeale

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