me. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help us win."
But first he is going to have to relive, at least for a while, the past 100 days of largely unflattering headlines that started first with the Lennay Kekua hoax, then a lackluster NFL combine. The loudest buzz, though, pointing to why Te'o became a second-rounder when he was largely projected to land in the first round was his underwhelming performance against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
"I think San Diego is probably one of the better environments he could have ended up, because it's a small big town or a big small town," Acee said, "as opposed to some of the other markets that he could be going to. But of course, there's going to be a lot of curiosity."
"He's got some good guys on the team, who are the leaders in Philip Rivers, Nick Hardwick, Eric Weddle. They'll shield him to a certain extent. But if he really is the guy who was that emotional leader and who all of us saw play, then he'll overcome this. The way he performs on the field and how he handles the scrutiny in the NFL, that will determine how San Diego fans respond to him."
Te'o becomes the 10th Notre Dame player to be drafted by the Chargers franchise, but the first since cornerback Willie Clark in 1994. San Diego isn't quite the closest NFL franchise to his home, it being just a little farther from Hawaii than San Francisco and Oakland, but the team has long held a special place in Te'o's heart because of former Charger linebacker standout Junior Seau.
Seau, like Te'o, was of Samoan descent. The 12-time Pro Bowler took his own life last year at age 43.
"I want to make him proud," Te'o said of Seau. "He was a dominant linebacker, and that's what I want to be. This team has a history of great linebackers, and I want to be a part of that tradition."
The Chargers open the season at home against Houston on Monday Night Football on Sept. 9. He'll cross paths with Eifert Dec. 1, when the Bengals visit San Diego on Dec. 1. The Chargers have a preseason game against the Bears in Chicago on Aug. 15.
By then, perhaps normalcy will be overtaking the drama that has stalked Te'o the past three months.
"This is a Chargers town," Acee said. "And the fan base here remembers this being one of the winningest regular-season teams, in the LaDainian Tomlinson Era, about a span of six years. Now they've gone three years without going to the playoffs.
"They've got a new general manager and a new coach. The fans are very impatient now and increasingly so. So if this guy can be a part of a resurgence, if he can come in and make some plays anywhere near the level he did the past couple of years he did at Notre Dame, they will absolutely fall in love with him."
Staff writer Eric Hansen:
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