Manty Theo didn’t need to star in Netflix’s recent two-part documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist. The former Notre Dame linebacker star has found ample closure in his life after the chaos and drama of the winter of 2012-13, in no small part because he is now married with a one-year-old daughter and a son on the way. But to some extent, he wanted to make a documentary, in particular, to pay tribute to Notre Dame.
“I didn’t think it mattered in case I needed to tell [my story]Theo said before the Irishman beat Cal 24-17 on Saturday. “When Netflix first offered me this opportunity, I told them that I didn’t feel the need. I experienced closure in my life and I was at peace with where my life was and what it will be, what it can be for the rest of my life. I’m fine.”
Instead, the 2012 unanimous All-American, now two seasons behind his last NFL appearance, saw an opportunity to exonerate anyone who supported him as dead spin brought charges against him in early 2013.
“The main thing I wanted to make sure is that a lot of you really supported me over a long period of time, that I didn’t provide the facts to back everyone up,” he said. “It was sort of my attempt to say, ‘Hey, look, thanks for all your support, thanks for supporting me’; …
“After all the truth and facts came out, everyone should have seen it. It was like people were saying, “I told you he was a good guy.”
For Theo, Notre Dame as a whole stood in that camp long before the well-received documentary. He has returned to campus several times over the past decade, perhaps most notably in 2018 following the sudden death of teammate Kona Schwenke that spring. South Bend has long been as cozy a home for Theo as his native Hawaii. When a stranger treated Te’o and his family to dinner on a Friday night, unannounced, and left before Te’o could say thank you, it underlined the welcoming feeling he always felt in the Indiana cold.
“Home will always be home,” he said. “On a good day and a bad day, when you go home, this is your refuge, and this is what Notre Dame is to me.”
Here’s Theo – a former pro football player who made over $10 million in his eight-year career and now owns two companies, who still looks like he could hit the field after a month of training, a devout man more down to earth than the vast majority who had ever applauded him or ridiculed him, he possessed at least some streak of kinship that almost anyone who has set foot on campus in the last decade will immediately understand.
“The only thing that makes it feel different is that there are a lot of buildings here that didn’t exist when I was here,” Theo said, adding that he would get lost just driving from the airport. However, the construction part is welcome.” Te’o was enthusiastic about the new Irish Athletics Centre, better known as the indoor soccer field.
Feasibility Study ON FREEMAN
Te’o made a surprising comparison when asked what he thought of Notre Dame’s freshman head coach. Marcus Freeman. While their defensive styles vary greatly – one “bend, don’t break” and one aggressive to the point of failure – Te’o sees similarities between Freeman and the former Irish defensive coordinator. Bob Diaco in how their players come together for them.
“Just someone you would literally do anything for,” Te’o said. “I think as a head coach this is the most important thing you can establish with your players.
“I will do everything for you”. That’s what led to our success in 2012 defensively because all of us guys would have done anything for Coach Diaco. [and the rest of his defensive staff]. Now they have him as the main person, so what a great blessing and opportunity.”
— Matt Cashore (@mattcashore) September 18, 2022
MESSAGE TE’O TO THE TEAM
Freeman asked Theo to speak to the team on Friday. Still at 0-2 at that point, Theo’s post at Notre Dame was one with more credibility coming from someone who had experienced such public ups and downs in his life.
“This is the best thing in football, this is the best parallel with life,” he said in an interview with the Irish. “Things won’t start the way you wanted. Keep going.
“Life is not always the way you want it to be. Keep going.
“You can’t do anything about 0-2, but you can do something about today.”
As this Cal Hail Mary is unfinished, at about the 24 second mark, you can see Freeman’s reserved reaction, no doubt wondering if he can get to DB right now and there to teach them how to handle this game. https://t.co/FZh8HibF5e
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) September 19, 2022
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Finish that game and I’ll never again refer to South Florida-Notre Dame circa 2011 as “the last unique college football game.” https://t.co/FegV1lK6qn
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) September 18, 2022
Marcus FreemanThe verb tense coincided with the present, and it is no coincidence that this happened right after Notre Dame (1-2) took the first victory of their head coaching career, defeating Cal, 24-17.
“We are an O-line, D-line driven program,” Freeman said Saturday. “You have to be able to control the ball, but you can’t just say that’s what we’re going to do, that’s all. You have to be able to adjust to what works and what gives you offense or defense.”
A week ago, Freeman had to formulate his wishes for the program with an “if” specification. In the first half against the Bears, this seemed to be the case again on offense, although the biggest problems with the offensive line early on were repeated false starts, not bad blocks.
Instead of constantly putting pressure on him, the Irish players in the skill position failed to support the junior quarterback. Drew Pine at his first career start. Missed pitches made his first few possessions look worse than they really were, as did he missing several open looks in the pre-season All-American tight end for juniors. Michael Mayer. Less obvious, but equally problematic freshman recruit. Tobias Merryweather failure to make a pre-tie move when expected resulted in an aborted third down attempt deep in Cal territory.
“We have to have people who make the quarterback look good,” Freeman said. “Most of the result of the game falls on the shoulders of the quarterback, but there is so much going on during the game that really determines the result.
“But the quarterback will have to answer for it.”
While several moments of telephone conversation between Pine and the Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rhys attracted the most attention and were clearly aimed at Pine’s mistakes, reminding him of the failures of others was undoubtedly a beautiful feature on the edge of the field. Giving the quarterback some leeway in recognizing that stagnation is not entirely up to him could not be achieved at the cost of undermining his confidence in his teammates in the game plan.
Regardless of who to blame, Notre Dame scored just seven points in the first half for the second week in a row..
“We have to launch the attack faster,” Freeman said on Monday. “We just didn’t use those routines early in the game. Much of the blame will fall on Drew’s shoulders, but not just Drew. We had a few falls, we had a few penalties. Drew has had several uncharacteristic shots.
“We just couldn’t start the game early in the game. To really look at how things have changed in the second half, we were able to install a running game. What does it do? This unlocks areas in the skip game.”
The Irishman gained 109 yards in the first half over 30 plays. They scored 189 points in the second half in 31 games (not counting the final out due to a yard loss as Notre Dame exhausted the game clock). Their first four possessions were 3-pointers followed by a fumble before finally they made a 60-yard, 10-play touchdown march. Six of Notre Dame’s seven possessions in the first half were the exact opposite of “quality drives”.