Te’o Becoming Irish Legend

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. AP photo

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Punahou football star Manti Te’o announced he would attend Notre Dame. While he represented a recruiting coup for the Irish and was expected to contribute, it would have been hard to imagine that Te’o would become a legend at a place where the Pantheon is already crowded.

But Te’o has been full of surprises large and small. At Notre Dame he surprised first by choosing to go to a Catholic school in frigid South Bend, Ind.; then by forgoing an LDS mission to remain with his team; next by leading his fellow upper-class teammates in protesting new coach Brian Kelly’s remarks about their character; and then spearheading a reconciliation between players and staff following Kelly’s apology; and finally by forgoing a lucrative NFL contract in favor of staying for his senior year.

His play has energized his team and fan base on the field, and he inspired the student body and alum- ni off it.

When Te’o suffered a personal tragedy with the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend within a 48-hour span, the Irish faithful agonized with him. Of course, he insisted on playing the following Saturday and led his team to victory.

At a Notre Dame pep rally, thousands of his fellow students wore lei and chanted his name.

As always, Te’o, while emotional, was humble and forthright.

When South BendTribune sportswriter Eric aHansen was asked about Te’o, he paused and thought, and finally said, “Notre Dame may never see the likes of Manti Te’o ever again.”

An amazing sentiment voiced in the shadow of the Golden Dome.

When Major League Baseball evaluates the new wild card system, it will hear from the nays who believe it’s ludicrous to play a 162-game season and have everything come down to one game.

I stand with the yays who enjoy the drama of the September games and even more the Game 7 atmosphere in the one- game playoff.

And, yes, it does lend some advantage to the division winners who get to save a pitcher, but it seems only fair to reward the teams that come out on top.

Baseball had its share of great stories, such as the remarkable runs by the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles, and the Triple Crown won by Miguel Cabrera.

For sheer feel-good value, it would be hard to beat the Game 4 heroics of Yankee Raul Ibanez, who was sent up to pinch- hit for the struggling Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth with the Orioles leading 2-1. He hit a shot into the right field bleachers to tie the game.

That alone would give him a place in Yankee lore, but when he came up in the bottom of the 12th and hit a bomb into the second deck, he joined the Yankee immortals and will be remembered by fans in the Bronx for as long as baseball is discussed there.

Baseball may have been surpassed by football in popularity, but October provides some of the most special moments in sports.