“My name is Manti Te’o, and I know a thing or two about catfish, which is why I eat at…”
Sometimes, the jokes, and commercials, write themselves. That the erstwhile captain of the 2012 season is now signed to a two-year deal in New Orleans, where catfish is something of a thing, speaks to the larger dark humor that pervades football at all levels. The Saints announced Tuesday that the former San Diego Charger is a Saint.
People don’t want Manti to succeed. I don’t mean people in New Orleans, though I was invited to not one, but three, catfish lunches today. I was told that this was a good and Lenten move for the young man, since no other city foreswears meat like we do. I’m not speaking of New Orleans. I’m speaking of the larger population, the league as a whole, who never seemed to accept or believe that the kid who go duped by “Lennay Kekua” could have moved on.
Move on he did. After being selected 38th overall by the Chargers, Manti went on to four productive, but injury-plagued seasons. He played in all thirteen games in 2013, finishing with 61 total tackles, 41 of which were solo. In 2015, he finished with 107 total tackles and was named captain for the last four games. He was a captain, too, to start 2016, but went down after just three games to an Achilles injury. His 2013 and 2014 seasons were dampened by bilateral foot injuries as well.
For the Saints, leadership and tackling are welcome, which is why I am excited about Manti’s arrival in town. With Drew Brees under center, a defense only has to do so much to win games. Craig Robertson was the only Saint in triple digits for tackles last season. While he and Manti will have to figure out who plays where, that kind of shuffle is a good issue to have for a defense. I’m hoping it works out for the best.