After Dr. Phil stepped in and set the world straight (no pun intended), the Manti Te’o story seemed to fade into the abyss—kind of like Notre Dame’s undefeated season in the national championship game. But on Monday Te’o’s name again popped up on my Twitter feed.
Towleroad and Outsports both posted a clip of an interview with NFL analyst Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show. Florio, who was speaking about Te’o’s performance at the NFL Combine, claimed that NFL teams want to know if Manti Te’o is gay. Florio called it the “elephant in the room.”
He said that he didn’t think it would hurt Tebow’s first round status if he is gay, but that teams want to know what they’re getting into down the road. Patrick asked if team officals would directly ask Te’o if he is gay. Florio responded saying pretty much that they would if they could but they wouldn’t take the chance of “Katie Couricing” him.
Florio mentioned about Dr. Phil’s interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, in which Tuiasosopo admitted to having romantic feelings for Te’o, as the catalyst for continued speculation.
Manti Te’o may not be the fist openly gay professional athlete in the US, but he is well on his way to being the experiment that may finally tell us how teams will react to a gay player—even if he’s straight. Speculation of Te’o’s sexuality along with his rookie status and the strange events of the offseason may be enough to cause other players to treat him as though he were gay even if he is indeed straight. Te’o’s trajectory may be more enlightening that we first thought.