Thanks to the San Diego Chargers drafting of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, our city’s reputation when it comes to sports is making national news.
And not in a good way.
Bringing Te’o to San Diego was going to make a splash, of course, because of his rather odd relationship choices. He fell in love with a girl who never existed. He was later duped into believing this woman, whom he never met, later died of cancer.
Yeah. Very weird.
But after the Chargers drafted him in the second round, a number of sports writers immediately hailed San Diego as the perfect landing spot for the sullied and much maligned athlete because…
San Diego’s sports media, along with the city’s fan base, are soft.
We are softer than Charmin.
“Instead of going to the pressurized environment of a city like New York or Chicago, he can find his way as an NFL player among the placid media and ideal climate of San Diego,” writes Beau Lynott, who blogs about sports for the Voice of San Diego.
(Hey, isn’t Beau part of the problem then too?)
When Te’o was first introduced to the San Diego media, some expressed surprised at how tame the local media was, particularly given the big slice of red meat put in front of them. Tim Prister, senior editor for IrishIllustrated.com, wrote:
“The grilling that was said to await Manti Te’o once he tangled with the NFL media either was overplayed or will come somewhere down the road after the former Irish great stood at the podium in San Diego Saturday…”
About the only piece of negativity came from UT San Diego editorial cartoonist Steve Breen, who produced a cartoon of Te’o walking along the beach with his arm around an invisible girlfriend, with Te’o saying: “"Honey, I think we're going to love living in San Diego."
Kind of funny. But Breen actually got blow-back from readers: “Congratulations,” one person wrote in a letter to the editors. “You have hit a new low with cartoon. To make light of one’s immaturity begs the question: Have you no decency?”
Obviously, we are not New Yorkers. Or Philadelphians who once booed Santa Claus at an Eagles game.
And, obviously, the rest of the nation sees us that way.
“In San Diego, Te’o gets a welcoming and forgiving community that cares as much about each other as it does their professional football franchise,” writes Joe Fortenbaugh, the senior fantasy football analyst at the National Football Post. “He gets to avoid the national attention and scrutiny that would have followed him in a city like Boston, New York or Philadelphia.”
Hmm. Norv Turner might disagree.
San Diego has a reputation for being less impassioned about it sports teams for a number of reasons:
Many of us are transplants and don’t have a longtime loyalty to the local teams.
And we have very nice beaches.
Our local media is also indeed thin when compared to other cities, such as Boston and New York.
So the Te’o drafting has not just put the spotlight on him, but on us as well. Apparently, we need to muscle up.
“San Diego is a good spot for Te'o. Strong polynesian community, close to home, soft media and a fan base who lives and lets live. Welcome!” tweeted Jack Bechta, an NFL agent.