SAN DIEGO - After dealing with the commotion over his fake online girlfriend and his flop in the national championship game, Manti Te'o believes he's ready for the NFL.
That includes being mentally tough enough for the verbal abuse he'll surely hear in places like Oakland and Philadelphia, the San Diego Chargers' first road game next season. Te'o said during a Chargers news conference on Saturday that he's been through a lot and he's ready.
He also thanked the Chargers for an opportunity to fulfill his dream said he was looking forward to a new journey in life. A day after the selection, he said it has not fully sunk in.
"To see that bolt on that helmet, I think that's when it will finally hit me… that I'm playing for the San Diego Chargers and I'm fulfilling a lifelong dream," Te'o said.
Te'o said he admired and looked up to Chargers great Junior Seau.
"He was a trailblazer for kids like me," he said.
Te'o added, "Seau was special, not just for how he did on the field but how he made the people of San Diego feel."
As a crowd of reporters asked about his new career, there were a few inevitable questions about his past.
For months, Te'o was thrust into the national spotlight for a bizarre online romance hoax with a woman he never met and never existed.
"I just concentrated on me being me... What I learned from that is you can control certain things and you can't control other things, so learn to control the things you can leave the things you can't control to up to those people," he said. "What happened is what happened and what I'm here to do is play football."
The Chargers' rookie brain trust, general manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy, said they were not bothered by the scrutiny Te'o has been under the last four months. The Chargers traded up in the second round to pick the Notre Dame linebacker, who was the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
When asked about how he deals with the media attention, he said, "Just finding time for myself. I find time for myself with my family. I find a lot of peace and lot of joy just hanging out with my friends, hanging out with my family... Just hold strong to your faith and know that everything happens for a reason and there's nothing that God will put in front of you that he won't pull you through."
Te'o told members of the media he finds comfort knowing there's a strong Polynesian population in communities like Oceanside, and said he will be working to win over fans in San Diego.
"When I came up here, I got the chance to just walk around and just talk to people and people here really care about their team, everything is pretty laid back and they're pretty supportive," he added. "When I knew I was coming to San Diego, I knew I was coming to a place similar to Hawaii."
During the news conference on Saturday, the team also introduced their third-round selection, California wide receiver Keenan Allen.
Allen, who is celebrating his 21st birthday on Saturday, said it was a "definitely a great birthday present" and that it was unexpected.