Nov. 30, 2012
Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o was announced as the winner of the 2012 Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award, given annually to one outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone. I'm Pam Schur of the Awards and Recognition Association. Thank you for joining us today to celebrate sportsmanship and our eighth annual Sportsmanship Award. We're here today to honor one of the college football greats for his actions both on and off the field. This player has shown tremendous, humble and profound displays of sportsmanship throughout his time here.
Our Association is proud to have established the only annual award that turns the spotlight on good character and on an individual who can help inspire young athletes to achieve the highest levels of sportsmanship and athleticism.
On behalf of the 2,600 members of our Association, I would like to thank our panel of judges for their thoughtful consideration of each candidate and for their time and effort in selecting our 2012 recipient.
To that end I'd like to present the awards and recognition Association president, Lori Warren.
LORI WARREN: Thank you, Pam. I'm proud to be here today to announce our 2012 recipient of the Awards and Recognition Association's Sportsmanship Award. This student athlete is indeed one of Notre Dame's finest, and he has shown us time and again what it means to be a humble, talented, respectful and sportsmanlike player on and off the field. His nomination and record blew us away, and it is saying a lot because of the outstanding candidates we had to choose from this year.
I'm very pleased that the Awards and Recognition Association went beyond talking about sportsmanship and came up with a way to help recognize role models for qualities that are so needed in today's society. I cannot think of a more deserving football player to acknowledge than University of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. I know you're not surprised to hear that Te'o was a standout even in this extremely deep pool of athletes, with a positive approach to the game and life. His nomination form jumped out at all of us. His playing record is award winning and prestigious, but it was his humble altruistic behavior off the field that caught our attention. He's an unselfish player and person willing to go above and beyond to give back to those less fortunate than him and set a good example for our youth.
It is my distinct pleasure to present the 2012 Awards and Recognition Association's Sportsmanship Award to Manti Te'o.
Before we hear from Manti, Notre Dame's athletic director Jack Swarbrick would like to share a few words with us.
JACK SWARBRICK: Thank you, Pam and Lori. You have chosen well. It is hard to imagine a more deserving candidate for an award that carries the characteristics of this one than Manti.
You know, sports brands, preeminent sports brands, are rare. Even rarer is an athlete that perfectly captures the essence of a sports program. I can think of very few, maybe a Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, maybe a Derek Jeter in New York, maybe a Bill Bradley at Princeton. But in the history of sports, it's rare. We are incredibly privileged at the University of Notre Dame during the past four years, culminating in this year, to have a student athlete who so perfectly captures the values of the institution.
Athletically, he has never compromised on the pursuit of excellence, a hallmark of this University in all it does. He has embraced fully the obligation of everyone at Notre Dame to be a member of the community, not just the football community but the larger community of the University, and environment in which we live.
And finally, he has demonstrated a commitment to service, service of others, which is an absolute hallmark of the University of Notre Dame. He has served the broader community and has worked with children and those who are less fortunate. He has served the Notre Dame community through his direct involvement in things outside the football program, and very importantly for us, as manifest in the success of this year, he has served the football program through his leadership.
Manti has all of the talents of a rare leader. He has an awareness of when leadership is needed; he has an understanding of when to act; and he acts with a compassion and a thoroughness which gets results.
So on behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I am incredibly honored to be able to join in congratulating Manti on this well deserved honor.
Manti Te'o: First of all, I'd like to thank ARA for this tremendous honor, not only for myself but on behalf of my family. I'm a direct result of the young man that my parents raised and the values that they instilled in me. I'd like to thank my father for this opportunity that I have to be in this spotlight and to represent him and my family in this wonderful institution. I'd like to thank my coaches for the countless hours that they sacrifice with their families to be here with young men like me to not only teach us about the game of football but about life and about being a man. I'd like to thank my teammates. I couldn't picture being on a better team, not necessarily only talent wise but just the love we all share with each other, and it's definitely shown itself this season with the success that we've experienced so far.
And I'd like to thank Mr. Swarbrick for bringing me here and for instilling the values of this University with all of us, not only on the football team but with the whole athletic department. It's definitely, for us young people who are here, it's definitely something that helps us to be better, better individuals and to grow as young men and young women, and just very happy and very honored to be recognized and to represent this school, this community and my family. So thank you.
Q. You've won obviously a lot of awards in your life, but to win a Sportsmanship Award, just talk about how much that means to you in terms of it not being just a football award but the things you do off the field, as well.
Q. You've talked about this before, and you've touched on it today a little bit, just how much Notre Dame means to you and how much they've kind of helped you grow, as well, to get to this point.
Q. The regular season is over, you won all the games. The next one is six weeks away. How much have you allowed yourself to maybe think about being in New York next weekend.
Q. Now that you don't have sort of the day to day prep for a game at the end of this week, how are you able to avoid Heisman thoughts, people coming to you, talking about it, because it's obviously on the doorstep here?
Q. Kind of in that same vein, you mentioned you're going to be away next week. What are you going to do in terms of game preparation next week, just watch film, anything like that?
Q. Kind of in that same vein, how intently are you going to watch the game Saturday between Alabama and Georgia?
Q. How do you handle a six week layoff, especially when you're doing all this traveling. How do you as an individual and as a team stay sharp for six weeks? You've never had to wait this long for a game before.
Q. I'm sure that all of next week in Florida and then in New York probably, more interviews you've been sitting in front of us all season, you've been doing national interviews all season, for the school website all season. Was there ever a point where that was overwhelming to you this year or in the past?
Q. You're a finalist not only for the Heisman but for a lot of other awards, the Lott and just a whole list in all kinds of cities. Can you talk about the schedule? Do you know what all cities you'll be going to and when that starts and when that ends?
Q. You have no idea?
Q. And you mentioned that you've gone to your last day of school. What about finals? Did you have to reschedule finals to fit around all this?
Q. And will you study on these trips?
Q. There was a TV crew here from Hawai'i spending some time your last game and so forth. I wondered if you could talk about what your experience here means to the people back home? Do you have a feel for that?
Q. Shane Victorino came over to watch your last game. What's your family's relationship with him?
Q. How did you meet him?
Q. I got an email from a guy yesterday that is trying to convince his wife to let him name his soon to be born daughter Manti. Do you have any advice for this guy?
Q. Looking back on this season, your personal success as well as the team's success so far, how do you look back on your decision last year to not go into the draft, and what kind of emotions do you have looking back on that decision? Manti Te'o: I'm very grateful. I think for anybody who's questioning if God lives, he lives, and I'm an example of that. For those who don't know if he answers your prayers, he does, because he answered mine. If he didn't answer prayers, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have came here. I definitely wouldn't have came back for my senior year. And I wouldn't have done a lot of things that I've done in the past. And because I prayed and because He does answer prayers, there's a reason why I'm standing before you guys today. Looking back on that decision to come back, it's the best decision I ever made. I walk out of here with not only experiences and memories with my team and just stories I can tell my children, but with a diploma from the University of Notre Dame, which carries a lot of weight around here. It's the best decision I ever made.
Q. You're graduating next month, right?
Q. Have you mapped out what happens after the championship game yet, what do you do?
Q. You watched the game on Saturday; any rooting interest or anyone that you care to
Q. With the Heisman, only one defensive player has won it in the past whatever years, and he had offensive plays and punt returns. What would it mean for a defense only player to win it?
Q. You saw Marqise Lee last week. Have you had a chance to see any of the other guys that will probably be up in New York like Collin Klein or Johnny Manziel?
Q. What are your thoughts about him?
Q. I was curious, when you guys know who you're going to play on Saturday, do you look at it as playing against Alabama or Georgia the team, or does the SEC, knowing that they've won the last six national titles, does that factor in at all knowing that history, and do you think that the SEC, regardless of which team you play, deserves to be the favorite based on the league's reputation, or is that unfair to you guys?
Q. It seems to be really a strong year for linebackers, and Alabama has C.J. Mosley and Georgia has Jarvis Jones, and I don't know if you have any history with those guys or know much about them or seen them play, but will you tell us whatever you do know?
Q. Along those lines, I know that you were looking seriously at USC, and Jarvis Jones was actually there at USC and he's spoken about that. Did you ever meet him, talk to him?
Q. Wondering if when you decided to come back this season if you really expected to be in this position you're in with the Heisman hype and going to the BCS National Championship game, or did you even surprise yourself this year?
Q. I wonder if you could reflect just on how hard it is to be undefeated. You had those overtime games against Pittsburgh and Stanford and a lot of close games, then after that just the credit you guys should get for being one of two undefeated teams left.
Transcript courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports