Hoax could make Notre Dame star Te'o less sought-after by NFL teams, sponsors

CREATED Jan. 17, 2013

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A senior executive at a sports management firm says linebacker Manti Te'o could have been the most marketable player coming into this year's NFL draft, as the face of a Notre Dame team that had returned to national relevance.

He'd become known for playing through his grief over the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend.

But now it turns out that the girlfriend never existed -- and there are lingering questions about whether Te'o was involved in the hoax, or was just a victim.

David Schwab of the sports management firm Octagon says if it turns out that Te'o wasn't involved, then there could be "zero" long-term damage to his marketability. But in the short term, he says, companies will probably hesitate to hire him -- at least until all of the facts are known.

An NFL draft consultant says the uncertainty could affect a team's willingness to draft Te'o in April. Former Dallas Cowboys GM Gil Brandt says Te'o had become less sought-after since a poor performance in the BCS championship game. And now, he says, his stock could fall further in the eyes of NFL teams.