INDIANAPOLIS -- It was the interview everyone was waiting for at the NFL Scouting Combine. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o addressed a group of reporters Saturday for the first time since news broke that he was deceived into believing he was dating a woman who did not exist.
The catfishing incident became national news due to the fact Te'o told people his girlfriend died during the season. Part of the Heisman Trophy runner-up's fame came from that compelling story.
"I've learned to be honest in everything you do," Te'o said. "And to keep your circle small and know who's in your corner and who's not."
Te'o said every NFL team has asked him about the incident and wanted to hear the story straight from him. Te'o said he already has met with the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers and has interviews scheduled with 18 other teams. He also said he has not been given any indication that the online hoax will hurt his draft stock.
"They've told me that they've all just wanted to hear from me what the truth was," Te'o said. "They haven't really said anything about it affecting me. ... (One team and I) briefly described it for 30 seconds, and the next 14 minutes was about plays and getting down to business."
Texans coach Gary Kubiaklater told the Houston Chronicle's John McClain that Te'o "wasn't gun shy" during his interviewed with the team and showed "a lot of poise."
"He answered our questions. He wasn't defensive," Kubiak said. "He's an effort player. Can run and hit. There's a lot to like."
Te'o came across as humbled during the news conference and admitted to being embarrassed by the whole scenario. He didn't dodge a single question from the media.
"I cared for somebody, and that's what I was taught to do," Te'o said. "Unfortunately, it didn't end up the way I thought it would."
Te'o said the hardest part was hearing from his sister that the family had to sneak into their home because of media waiting out front.
"It got overwhelming at times," Te'o said. "I'm just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I think I've answered everything I could. I'd really like to talk about football."
Te'o also conceded he could have done things different to avoid "all of this."
"It's definitely embarrassing," Te'o said. "You're walking through a grocery store and you get people's double-takes and they're staring at you.
"It's only going to make me stronger."
After the final question, Te'o thanked the media, Notre Dame, his family and everyone who has supported him. Te'o's media session went about as well as it could have, and he came across much better than he did during his Katie Couric and Jeremy Schapp interviews.
"The way that we did it worked best for me," Te'o said. "I think it went over as smoothly as it could."