Lofa Tatupu re-emerges as Seahawks’ leader

Published on December 9, 2010 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

Excuse Lofa Tatupu if he sounds a little too Disney for a middle linebacker. He’s just telling you how he feels.

It’s December, and he’s on the football field, and the Seahawks are in the mix for a playoff berth. His professional life is right again, and off the field, he can’t stop grinning and anticipating the birth of his first child — a boy — due in February. His words are stuffed with optimism.

“It’s everything you dream of,” Tatupu says. “Not to sound cliché, but it is. It’s magical. In the NFL, when you’re in the hunt this time of year, every little thing matters — every practice, every game, every day. It’s football at its most intense. I love it.

“I know it hasn’t looked pretty for us this year. But, really, it doesn’t matter. We’re right there.”

There’s no better spokesman for the Seahawks’ rise from dreadful to hopeful than Tatupu. Not coincidentally, his injury woes the past two seasons mirrored the team’s descent to last place. Likewise, his improved health this season reflects the progress the 6-6 Seahawks have made in coach Pete Carroll’s first season.

While it’s a stretch to declare that Tatupu is back to his 2007 form, when he was the best middle linebacker in the NFC, he has enjoyed a solid comeback season after missing 11 games in 2009, mostly because of a torn left pectoral muscle. His finest moment of the year came Sunday. Tatupu’s touchdown on a 26-yard interception return was the biggest play in the Seahawks’ 31-14 come-from-behind victory over Carolina.

But one sterling play doesn’t speak to all that Tatupu has accomplished in 2010. Of more significance is that he’s still on the field, playing through aches, leading the defense and helping keep the locker room united. Tatupu has always been more steady than dazzling, the ultimate player of substance.

Just being there — in the right place, always — is what Tatupu does best. So he looks back on last season as a nightmare because an injury put him in the wrong place.

“Depressing is the word I’d like to use,” Tatupu says when asked about 2009. “Believe me, I understand the significance of the meaning of that word. I’ve had family members, people close to me, diagnosed with depression. So in no way am I making light of that word or using it for effect. I was depressed.

“I felt like I had been stripped of everything. I was lost. Time stands still. I was heartbroken. It’s like losing your love. What I went through, all of those feelings that came from not being able to help my team, I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy.”

Before last season, Tatupu had missed only one game in his first four NFL seasons. So the torn pectoral muscle last year was a big deal. But Tatupu has a philosophy: “If you can run, you can play.” So he didn’t understand why the doctors wouldn’t clear him.

“I just didn’t get it,” Tatupu said. “Leroy Hill had a groin injury last year and missed six-to-eight weeks, and I was like, ‘Leroy has a problem with his groin, and he can get cleared, but I can’t get cleared?’ They told me that, if I want to be worth anything later in my career, I ought to opt for the surgery.”

Tatupu couldn’t stand watching the Seahawks play without him, but he used the time away to his advantage. He studied offense and tendencies of offensive coordinators to become an even smarter player. He has improved his eating habits and learned to rest his body better. He followed the example of old teammates such as Patrick Kerney and realized that, even though he’s only 28, he needed to start working to extend his career.

In February, Tatupu’s father, Mosi, who was a 15-year NFL player, died. This has been the most trying year of Lofa’s NFL career, but despite the physical and emotional pain, he is back, in the right place, once more. Carroll, who coached Tatupu at USC, is reunited with the linebacker.

Tatupu is on pace for 83 tackles, the fewest of any full season that he has played, but his impact is greater than numbers.

His knowledge of the defense has been a big help to the Seahawks this season as they’ve shuffled their defensive line because of injuries.

“I think he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Carroll said. “I think he’s hung in there tough. He’s helped the young guys — the changes and the transitions that we’ve been through — as best he could.”

Fresh from a long visit to the trainer’s room, Tatupu smiles. Yes, he says, he has some aches, but what NFL player doesn’t? He’s fine. He’s healthy enough. And as the Seahawks make their playoff push, he emphasizes one thing.

“The only thing better than playing in December,” he says, “is playing in January. This is fun. This is why we play.”

And this is why you should be thrilled No. 51 is back.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

141001chancellor600

Strong safety Kam Chancellor a ‘game-changing force’

FOCUS ON: KAM CHANCELLOR Not that it’s easy to overlook Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks’ 6-foot-3, 232-pound All-Pro strong safety ...
140930-gilliam-660

Seahawks’ tight-end shuffle focuses on Luke Willson, Cooper Helfet and Garry Gilliam

With veteran tight end Zach Miller out indefinitely after having ankle surgery last week, Luke Willson moves into ...
140929-miller-600x405

Seahawks tight end Zach Miller has ankle surgery

Seahawks tight end Zach Miller used the team’s bye week to have surgery on a troublesome ankle. It ...
140923wilson600

Russell Wilson leads the way for historic start by NFL quarterbacks

Russell Wilson isn’t just off to an efficient start to his third season; the Seahawks’ QB is leading ...
18TvJi.AuSt.5

Seahawks begin six-day break, which is especially timely for Kam Chancellor

Earl Thomas now has time to go on that cruise he said he wouldn’t mind enjoying. The All-Pro safety ...
dumb ass denver donkeys

Denver columnist blames coin flip for Broncos loss

The Denver Broncos defense showed improvement in their overtime loss to Seattle, but they were run over in ...
140922-wilson-lynch-round-660

Game at a glance: Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 OT

After surrendering a six-play, 80-yard drive that allowed the Broncos to tie the game at the end of ...
140921wilson660a

Overtime proved to be Russell Wilson time

After the Broncos rallied behind Peyton Manning to tie the score in regulation, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks ...

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com
 

lat-noise-wre0011368363-20130915

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz