MOBILE, Ala. — Notre Dame All-America linebacker Manti T’eo turned down an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. To executive director Phil Savage, that was a mixed blessing.
“Part of me feels like P.T. Barnum and would love to have him,” Savage said Monday of T’eo, whose fictitious former girlfriend has caused a national sensation in the past week. “Then again, if he was, that would take away from the attention the 100 other players we have here get. If we thought Tim Tebow being here (in 2010) was a circus, this would been even wilder.”
Notre Dame center Braxston Cave, a teammate of T’eo’s who is in Saturday’s game, agreed.
“Things would have been crazy,” he said. “That would have been hard on Manti, and he doesn’t deserve that.”
Cave added that he believes T’eo’s statements that he was fooled until an acquaintance confessed his role in the hoax.
“Somebody played a sick joke, and it definitely got out of hand,” Cave said. “What you see with Manti is what you get. He is a great team leader and a great football player. I have no reason not to believe he is telling the truth and that he will get through it.”
Kelly on the scene
Former Philadelphia coach Andy Reid once said that he regretted coming to practice at the Senior Bowl just after he had been named the Eagles’ coach because everyone kept asking him for jobs and shoving résumés in his pocket.
But new Eagles coach Chip Kelly didn’t seem to mind the distractions.
“It’s part of the business,” said Kelly, who left Oregon last week for his first NFL job. “People are looking for jobs, so I understand.”
Two of Kelly’s players — tackle Kyle Long and running back Kenjon Barner — are on the North team. Long said Kelly will be a success in the NFL.
“He’s a great person, particularly in the locker room,” he said. “His emphasis is on consistency and dependability. I know he’ll get a lot of great feedback from his players, and it won’t take them long to jump on the bandwagon.”
April’s on board
Chalmette native Bobby April hasn’t been on the Oakland Raiders’ staff long enough to have his gear match those of his fellow assistants.
But that’s not a problem for the team’s new special teams coordinator, who will be making his seventh NFL stop in 23 seasons — including three with the New Orleans Saints (1996-98) — after 13 years at the college level.
“It really doesn’t matter where you coach,” April said. “You could be at Catholic High or Rummel. It’s just fun to coach, and I’ve been very lucky … I can write down at least 400 people who can coach better than I can. But you just keep going because I’m doing something I really like.”
April spent the past three seasons with the Eagles but wasn’t retained by Kelly.
Southern co-offensive coordinator Chadwick Germany and running backs coach Elvis Joseph were among the many college coaches watching the South team practice.
Germany, the Jaguars’ play-caller, said they were there to watch and learn — and also to network with some of the NFL’s best coaches.
“I want to watch the quarterbacks work and run into a few quarterback coaches and coordinators who run the West Coast offense,” Germany said. “You pick things up anywhere you can.
“It makes your kids better, and hopefully it’ll help you win.”