“I’m here to play football,” Te’o said after practicing for the first time with the San Diego Chargers, determined to push his infamous girlfriend hoax and his lackluster national championship play into the rearview mirror. “I’m not focusing on what is going on on the outside. I’m worried about what we’re doing here in San Diego and I’m looking forward to when the veterans come in on Monday.”
Whether they were the league’s No. 1 overall pick like Fisher or a long shot like Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris, a basketball star at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which doesn’t even field a football team, they’re all in the same boat: NFL novices hoping to prove or disprove personnel people’s notions about them.
“I’ve had to relearn everything,” said Harris. “In high school we had basic stuff. This is all new.”
To some degree, it’s unfamiliar to everyone, even to those who played at big-time college football programs.
“It’s been a mental beat down,” said Denver Broncos tackle Vinston Painter, a sixth-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech. “But at the same time we just have to stay composed and listen to what Coach is saying and learn from your mistakes every day. There’s always something that can be fixed. It’s a nice-sized learning curve, but I feel like I’m handling it pretty well.”
Going from college to the NFL is akin to jumping from high school to college, only “it’s more intensified,” said Broncos wide receiver Tavarres King, a fifth-round pick from Georgia. “It’s kind of like you have to be perfect out there.”
Their every move is monitored in one way or another.
“They’re probably a little more under the microscope than maybe they were in their colleges,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “You just try to educate them and bring them up to speed as fast as possible. You’re going to have some mishaps, you’re going to have some bumps.