Rebuilding a Sports Image

This time of year in pop culture is a prime time for thought on upcoming award shows and draft seasons. Do they have Sports Razzie awards? If there were a film about January 2013's sports headlines, it would certainly be considered for a Golden Raspberry.  The start of the year brought two big PR storms: Lance Armstrong is finally "clean" and Heisman runner up and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is involved in what could be one of sport's most infamous hoax stories. Far too often sports fans are confounded by headlines of doping charges, cheating allegations, both in the sport and in relationships, and stories so unheard of they seem to belong on film.

We're seeing a double-wing from the sports and PR industry. The basic rundown of Manti's weak-side:
1.Boy fakes meeting girl.
2. Fake girl and real boy fake online date.
3. Real boy fakes fake girl's death.
4. Boy's friend Ronaiah appears to be IRL friend, and real involved.
5. Notre Dame finds out fake girl has a fake death story because she's fake.
6. Real boy cries wolf.
7. Notre Dame believes him, investigates, and cries wolf.
8. Real tweets cause real big mess.
9. The Internet does internetty things.
10. Next day, "Teoing" is a thing.
You gotta love memes.

Could the stories be part of some elaborate work of PR art right before Manti's stint on NFL draft? Can he even maneuver his way through the PR power pitch to make it to the draft? As one of America's most decorated collegiate football players, will Te'o face the same fate as others like Reggie Bush (whose crime of receiving fringe benefits increasingly seems more innocent) and have to forfeit awards, wins, and titles?

The process of rebuilding an athletic empire has been a combination of perseverance, humility, and public relations crisis management for the likes of Bush, Michael Vick, O.J. Mayo, and countless others. Sanctions by national sports regulation authorities have changed the careers and reputations of once powerhouse  teams like the SMU Mustangs, now on a rise after rebuilding for over twenty years. Another recovered fumble is TCU quarterback Casey Pachal, whom admitted defeat, enrolled in rehab, is now back in spring practice.

As Te'o moves forward, will he face the same forgiving sports fans and coaches? Charles Davis of the NFL Network thinks "teams are going to smoke him over pretty well," to make sure they make the right, punked choice. Te'o doesn't believe the headlines will affect him at the draft, to take place this April. After all, it's been about a month since the story dropped. How will the first round go? Can Manti persevere simply by reminding folks of his talent? He thinks so.

"I have to just go out there and perform and all that other stuff is behind me, [...] The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick." 
- Te'o interview with USA Today.