An article in Tuesday’s Chicago Sun-Times talks about Notre Dame all-American candidate Manti Te’o’s dream of someday playing in the NFL and using his talents and resources to serve others. Te’o, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound linebacker, is a devout Mormon from Hawaii. Here are a few quotes that jumped out at me from the article:
“Ever since I was young I understood the whole meaning of life isn’t how much money you can accumulate, how much fame you experience, it’s how many lives you touch, how many faces you bring smiles to,” Te’o said when asked how he envisions himself in 20 years. “I see myself back in Hawaii doing something in the community to improve the lives of young children. Everything I’ve done is to prepare myself to give back.”
“I love football. There’s no doubt about that but I know life is more than football. Football will provide me with the means to give back. The amount of revenue I get from football and the amount of attention I get from football will hopefully provide me with the stage so people can know what I do — not for me. I don’t want the spotlight for me, but so they’ll be influenced to do something like that, to touch somebody else.”
Te’o will never forget the day he and his father spotted a homeless man begging for money by a stoplight in his hometown of Laie. He asked his father why some people were so poor they had to beg. His father said something he’ll never forgot:
“People like that are here to find out whether or not we’ll help.” From that moment, what Te’o has wanted most, even more than an NFL career, is to help others.
“People know Hawaii for the tropical beaches but if you go on one side of the island, where I’m from, those beaches are filled with homeless families. When I leave college and hopefully the connections I make and the education I receive can help guide me through the possibilities and different routes I can go to to have the greatest impact on people.”
I will always be disappointed when a young man chooses sports over serving a mission, but to Te’o’s credit, it sounds like he genuinely cares about being a good person and helping others. I wish him the best this season and in all his future football endeavors.