Morning Brew: Notre Dame star playing through emotional pain

Along with being one of the best players in the country, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o is one inspiring person. Te’o grew up a Mormon in Hawaii but decided to go play football at the nation’s most prestigious university, Notre Dame.

Last month tragedy struck for Te’o. On Sept. 12, an early-morning phone call from his parents informed Te’o that his grandmother had died. Six hours later, Te’o found out he had also lost his longtime girlfriend Lennay to leukemia. Te’o was heartbroken but remembered the promise he had made to Lennay about what he would do if anything happened to her, a promise that he would not miss a game.

Three days later, on Sept. 15, the Irish were set to play the No. 10 ranked Michigan State Spartans. Te’o decided to play and led the Irish with 12 tackles as Notre Dame went on to upset the Spartans 20-3. The next week Te’o went to Lennay’s funeral on Sept. 22, and later that night he played in Notre Dame’s game against the Michigan Wolverines. The Irish won 13-6 but struggled to score all game. The defense stepped up and forced Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson to throw four interceptions. And guess who had two of those interceptions?  Te’o.

Te’o went out and played the best two games of his career within a week and a half of losing his grandmother and longtime girlfriend. This tragedy hit Te’o hard emotionally, but it motivated him to perform better. Te’o’s courage on and off the field should be an inspiration to us all.

The Irish hold the toughest schedule in the country this year, and so far they are unbeaten with a 5-0 record. According to college football expert Todd McShay, Te’o is currently ranked No. 6 overall in the Heisman race. The Irish hope that this season will be successful enough to establish them as one of the elite programs in college football once again. The Irish are currently ranked No. 7 and face the No. 17 ranked Stanford Cardinal this Saturday at home.

Robert Griffin III needs to stay healthy for Washington to Succeed

There’s no denying that the Washington Redskins have received a much-needed spark so far this season from standout rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III running the show. But Griffin needs to start sliding more in order to have a long and successful NFL career. Last Sunday Griffin took a big hit from Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Griffin didn’t return to the game, and he was reported to have forgotten the score of the game and the team he was facing. Griffin was diagnosed with a mild concussion and released from the hospital later in the day.

Griffin stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 217 pounds: He isn’t going to run over defenders; he’s going to try to outrun them. Griffin is taller and weighs more than the oft-compared Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, but Griffin still has a lengthy build that is susceptible to injuries. We all know how injury-prone Vick is, but with Griffin being a better pocket passer, he is able to not rely on his legs as much as Vick does. He can instead focus on throwing the ball downfield.

Also, Griffin’s main role in the Redskins offense is to make plays through the air and hand the ball off to running back Alfred Morris. Other than a few designed bootlegs or quarterback draws, Griffin will be a pass-first quarterback most of the time. The only situations in which Griffin will likely run is if the receivers are covered downfield, and he has some room to pick up some yards with his legs.

When asked about Griffin, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told USA Today, “I think with anybody, every game you want to learn from your experiences. The main thing with this is that he needs to know that he helps the team more if he gets up for the next play as our quarterback.” Griffin practiced on Wednesday (mostly cardio), and his status is questionable for the Redskins’ game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

  • Updated Oct. 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm
  • Edited by Stéphane Roque