According to NBC Pro Football Talk, Manti Te'o "aggressively" pursued endorsement deals prior to the public learning that Lennay Keuka, Te'o's deceased girlfriend, did not exist.
Manti Te'o is having a rough month.
After losing the BCS title game to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Deadspin accurately reported that Te'o's deceased girlfriend, Lennay Keuka, never existed. Now, it appears that Te'o and his camp were trying to agree to endorsement deals prior to the Keuka story coming to light.
According to NBC Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Te'o and his camp reportedly tried to reach marketing deals with various apparel companies, prior to Deadspin breaking the Keuka story.
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Per Florio's source, Te'o and his advisers "aggressively" tried to nail down marketing deals, but Te'o's poor play in the BCS title game prevented companies from rushing into deals with Te'o. Had Notre Dame upset Alabama in the BCS title game, however, companies may have hurried to ink Te'o to lucrative marketing contracts.
Though the truth may never be fully uncovered regarding Keuka, it is apparent that Te'o and his camp were bracing for impact at any time, knowing that there would be public backlash once it came to light that Keuka never actually existed.
Te'o reportedly became aware that Keuka was in fact alive in early December, and brought the scandal to the attention of Notre Dame personnel shortly after Christmas -- including Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. Many questioned, and continue to question, why Te'o and Notre Dame hid the truth about Keuka, and perhaps there are multiple answers -- including money for Te'o and his camp, as suggested by Florio's source.
So far, it appears that the Keuka hoax at least cost Te'o endorsement deals, as it seems unlikely that a company would pay Te'o to be its spokesman currently. It's unknown how the Keuka scandal will affect the linebacker's draft stock, but Te'o will certainly have a chance to improve his chances with NFL teams at the combine, in turn potentially easing questions about his character during interviews.