By George Ofman-
(CBS) Wow, would this be a mistake.
If, on April 25 the Bears are in position to draft the Notre Dame linebacker, whose dalliance with a she that was a he splashed headlines from here to Hawaii, they should simply say pass. I don’t mean go offense, I mean don’t go Te’o.
It has nothing to do his talents, which are questionable, yet still could translate into a decent career in the NFL. I mean he would be the worst possible replacement for Brian Urlacher. The Bears have decided to part ways with the future Hall of Famer. That’s fine. I can deal with the decision and you should, too. It’s not going to change. Urlacher is gone whether you like it or not.
The last thing the Bears need is a rookie to replace Urlacher and the last rookie they need is Te’o.
The Bears locker room is reeling with the loss of Lovie Smith even though this was a decision that had to be made. And it’s also been impaired by the loss of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and the bolting of Nick Roach, the viable and sensible replacement to No. 54. Funny: if the Bears knew Urlacher would reject their $2 million offer, and you knew they did, why didn’t they simply re-sign Roach and tell Urlacher to take his story walking weeks ago.
Now they need a man in the middle and it has to be a veteran if one exists. But drafting Te’o could set him and this franchise back for years. Can you imagine the pressure on Te’o even if Urlacher was still here? His transition would be smoother but still replete with some significant pot holes. Choosing Te’o now would be like housing him in a home sitting square on a sink hole.
While Te’o was a leader at Notre Dame, the much publicized “catfish” incident reduced him to a national joke and psychological gamble let alone one on the field. And just think about the first day he introduces himself to Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. Can you imagine what their reaction might be? I’m thinking Julius Peppers sacks him right on the spot, picks him up and tells him, “Kid, here’s a phone, call a real estate agent and tell him you need to relocate but make sure his name isn’t Ronaiah Tuisasosopo.” Of course when Jay Cutler greets him he’d just pat him on the back and utter, “You’re just what I need.”
Leadership in a locker room is palpable. So is someone with baggage and Te’o has enough to fill a Carnival cruise.
The Bears defense is in flux if not devoid of key personnel. The current veterans aren’t happy with all the changes. That’s their problem. But adding Te’o would create a significant other. He’s a failure waiting to happen at Halas Hall. Maybe he makes it somewhere else, but not here.
In an offseason filled with monumental changes the last thing Phil Emery and Marc Trestman need to do is force feed his hungry Bears with Manti Te’o. He’ll be swallowed quicker than a catfish sandwich.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.