Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has officially retired from the NFL. Te’o became more well-known for his off-the-field life than his on-the-field play.
Te’o was catfished by a family friend who pretended to be a woman. The details of their relationship and how it started were featured in Netflix documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist, where the world got to hear both sides of this story.
After that documentary, there was some further discussion of Te’o (who’s still just 32) returning to football, whether in the NFL or another league. But he now says has moved on from football to other things.
“I’m playing a different game now,” the former Notre Dame star told TMZ this weekend. “I’m trying to empower people. Trying to inspire people. That’s the game that I’m playing now, and I’m trying to be the best at that.”
Te’o was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the then-San Diego Chargers. He played for them through the 2016 season, but suffered several injuries, including a torn Achilles tendon that had him miss most of his final season with that team. He’d then go on to play for the New Orleans Saints (2017-19, with a gap in 2019 before they resigned him) and signed with the Chicago Bears in 2020, but didn’t actually appear in a game for them.
Since his practice squad contract with the Bears expired in 2021, there’s been some talk about Te’o playing football again. And that intensified around the documentary last summer. But he instead ventured into broadcasting last year, appearing on NBC’s halftime show for their BYU-Notre Dame broadcast. And he fully backed away from a future playing career in his comments to TMZ this weekend, saying his devotion now is to help others through their troubles as he got through his and be an inspiration for others.