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Te'o teaches Fluker how to stay afloat

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Sink or swim? Chargers' top rookies bond
    Manti Te'o helps D.J. Fluker overcome childhood fear of drowning

    By Michael Gehlken
    8:26 P.M. JULY 27, 2013

    D.J. Fluker had never swum. He was too traumatized to try.

    Once, around age 4, the Chargers right tackle fell and sank to the bottom of a 12-foot swimming pool. His mother jumped in after him, tightly wrapping her arms around her first-born and pulling him to safety.

    No problem, Manti Te’o told Fluker last month.

    Whatever trust must exist between two teammates was present this summer between the top selections of the Chargers’ rookie class, as Te’o (the second-round draft pick) helped first-rounder Fluker overcome a childhood fear of drowning. They were together at the NFL Rookie Symposium in Ohio, the linebacker swimming laps for a workout while the 340-pound Fluker stood in the shallow end, paralyzed from wandering any deeper.

    “I was terrified of water,” Fluker said. “He was like, ‘Man, relax. I got you.’ ”

    Te’o said he began the lesson the only way he knew how — the way his father taught him.

    The first step is getting comfortable with the face being underwater. Fluker wore contact lenses and couldn’t see underwater, but nonetheless grew OK with it. From there, they graduated to buoyancy and form.

    “Dad just held me up in the water,” Te’o said.

    While lifting Fluker’s stomach to keep the lineman parallel, Te’o instructed Fluker to simultaneously kick his legs and dig his hands into the water. So Fluker kept kicking and digging, kicking and digging, his size-22 feet and 10½-inch hands creating a sizable splash.

    Te’o decided it was time.

    “He said, ‘All right, I’m going to let you go,’ ” Fluker said. “I’m like, ‘Let me go? No, no, no, no, no.’ I just sank.”

    “His head was still above the water,” Te’o said. “He just wasn’t as flat as he should have been.”

    On the second attempt, Fluker made it a few feet. Attempts three and four were better. Ultimately, Fluker got it.

    The link that connected Fluker and Te’o when the Chargers drafted them in April was the field they shared to conclude their college careers. But beyond that BCS National Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame, there are stronger commonalities between the 22-year-olds.

    Both love football. Both want to be leaders.

    Fluker might already be the most vocal player on the 90-man roster, chattering throughout stretches and breaking down teammates, something veterans say they embrace. His greatest challenge is channeling that energy into controlled chaos that will fit offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris’ scheme.

    The rookie’s results so far have resembled his first swim. He has often sunk, but everyone can see he’s still kicking and digging.

    “I’m still trying to find myself,” Fluker said. “I’m still trying to find a (rhythm) on the offensive line. I’m competing. ... (Saturday) was probably my best practice, where I’m finally understanding technique and finally understanding what I have to do. Coach keeps reiterating to me what to do, and eventually it starts to click a little bit. It’s coming slowly.”

    Te’o has been a quiet workman. His approach to training, on and off the practice field, has earned him respect in the Chargers’ locker room. While deferring the vocal role to such veterans as inside linebacker Donald Butler, he’ll talk to teammates with the goal of bringing people together.

    He celebrates with players after they make a play. When they miss, he insists the next one will be different. He has told Butler that he’s right behind him, there when he needs him, lending support.

    Just as he was for Fluker.

    “Don’t ask me how to surf, though,” Te’o said. “I don’t know how to do that.”
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  2. Brundlefly
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    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    I loved reading that. I know nothing of Te'o other than the gf hoax basically, but now I'm excited to watch him and hope he turns into a star, he sounds like a great person.
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  3. EOTL
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    EOTL BoltTalker

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    All imaginary girlfriend news aside, Te'o has always been described as a high-character guy. Doing something like this only goes to reinforce what people have been saying about him being a really nice person.
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