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Bill Polian doesn't see a red flag on Manti Te'o's draft stock yet

By Tim Graham

Is it possible Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o can pull through this maelstrom with his draft stock intact?

Bill Polian doesn't see why not.

Polian, the most recent inductee on the Buffalo Bills' Wall of Fame, made an appearance on ESPN to discuss how NFL front offices will handle Te'o in the draft.

No NFL executive has encountered a situation like this.

But Polian, who assembled the Bills' four Super Bowl teams and won a Lombardi Trophy as president of the Indianapolis Colts, claimed that based on what we know about Te'o so far, clubs could get past any judgment errors Te'o has made with a conjured-up dead girlfriend.

"This is a very unfortunate and untoward situation, but what we know now is not what we'll know probably 15 0r 20 days from now," Polian said. "I was asked earlier, do I think it's a red flag? I do not. It's simply a situation that needs to be further investigated.

"One thing is certain, however. This now has gone from a scouting issue to a club-management issue. From here on in, personnel directors and general managers will be handling this and probably with advice from attorneys and etcetera.

"It's unfortunate, but it's not uncommon. It's a bizarre story, but there are players in every draft who have situations such as this that need to be examined, and as a matter of course they generally are."

Polian outlined how a team should go about vetting Te'o for the draft and emphasized the need to keep the process confidential out of fairness to the prospect.

"The first thing you're going to want to do is get some legal advice on privacy issues," Polian said. "That's the first thing I would do.

"Secondly, it is not uncommon for the agents and people who represent the players to be very forthcoming with clubs. I would dare say that Manti's people will get reams of information to the clubs on how they view this and what the circumstances were.

"Obviously, the clubs will weigh in with personal interviews, and that may be a logistical issue, but they'll deal with it at the appropriate time. ... Very confidentially, very quietly the NFL works through it, and the clubs get the answers they want."

Polian said NFL executives will probe Te'o about specifics, e.g. what he knew and when he knew it.

"It's a unique story," Polian said. "But there is, at least as we sit here right now, no question of illegality, no question of untoward conduct, nothing of that. It's just a situation none of us have ever come across before."

Polian's son, St. Francis High grad Brian Polian, recruited Te'o to Notre Dame.

Brian Polian was a special-teams coordinator and linebackers assistant for five seasons at Notre Dame before coaching the past two seasons at Stanford, where Te'o's fake girlfriend purportedly went to school. Brian Polian now is head coach at Nevada.

Bill Polian expressed confidence in Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick's internal investigation. Swarbrick declared full support of Te'o and called him the innocent victim of a malicious hoax.

"That's a pretty ringing endorsement from Jack," Bill Polian said. "He doesn't give those kinds of endorsements lightly."

Polian also disputed the notion that Te'o's situation raises character concerns.

"This is not a character issue, at least with what we know right now," Polian said. "If you accept Jack's explanation last evening, this was a player who ostensibly was victimized."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |