Manti Te'o learned football, life lessons in La'ie

Published: Nov. 11, 2012 at 10:42 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 at 2:16 PM HST
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Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o

LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Football analysts and fans of the sport spend a lot of time focusing on the things that make Punahou graduate and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo's great, but there is one man on Oahu's North Shore who sees things a little differently.

When they can't make it to out to South Bend, Indiana to watch the Fighting Irish in-person, Manti's dad Brian gathers the rest of the Te'o family to catch the games on TV from their home in La'ie.

Brian can be a little animated.

"C'mon Manti, pay attention!" shouts Brian at the television screen. "Aye, you gotta play! You're killing me! Get your defense moving!"

Criticism is rarely thrown in Manti's direction, as Te'o leads Notre Dame's defense in total tackles (with 92) and interceptions (his sixth pick of the year came Saturday against Boston College), but make no mistake about it: Brian is immensely proud of his son, no matter what he says while the game is on.

He also says the Heisman hopeful's football career started with a promise.

"Manti asked me when he was young if I could help him learn how to play football," said Brian. "And so I committed to him right before he turned 5. I said I will learn everything I can to try to help you."

Brian began doing research to fulfill that promise, and together the two worked on footwork, the width of his stance, and the placement of his hands. They increased the length of Manti's stride by doing sprints and plyometrics in the front yard of the family's La'ie home.

Brian was a tough teacher.

"There were times after games at Punahou when we came, we put the cars here, shined the lights onto [the front yard] at nine o'clock at night, and we'd go over basic reads that he missed that night," said Brian.

Brian says that he remembers everything from Manti's days as a "lanky, uncoordinated" tight end to the day he signed with the Fighting Irish.

A little over three years later, Manti's more than proven him wrong, but Brian says he's not just proud of his son's performance on the field. Manti is a devout Mormon and a loving son, who has always looked after his four sisters and younger brother Manasseh.

"He has exceeded every expectation I had of him," said Brian. "All this is pretty much is just a joy. I don't share that with him. For me I'm like, what did you do on this play?! But this has been an amazing journey for us. And he's worked so hard!"

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