This week on Real Talk we had the opportunity to sit down with former Seahawks Linebacker Lofa Tatupu!! Lofa was drafted in the second round of the draft by the Seattle Seahawks out of Southern California. He was named to the Pro Bowl his First year in the league! That year he finished with 4 sacks. 3 interceptions and also lead the NFC champions Seattle Seahawks in tackles at 104.
Lofa was a three time Pro Bowler, and finished his career with over 500 career tackles. After playing football. Lofa moved onto coaching and creating his own CBD company!
He talks about his football career, advice for linebackers and also a little about his past teammates. Which include Russell Wilson and Matt Hasselbeck!
Be sure to check out the full video on our YouTube .
Talk about your experience of playing QB during your high school career?
"Yeah I tried to play quarterback I don’t know if I was that good at it which is why I ended up playing linebacker in college but interesting enough my only 3 division 1 offers were to play quarterback."
"I had a good arm, strong arm, accurate but I didn’t see many 5’11 6 foot quarterbacks in the NFL so I opted for defense when I went to college but it was fun I learned a lot more about the game and it helped me out defensively in terms of knowing what areas or zones the quarterback is trying to target when his going through progressions."
"So as a middle linebacker I attribute a lot of my interception because of knowing what the quarterback has to do or what he wants to do with the ball given the defense."
How was the transition from Maine to USC?
"Yeah from a climate you hit it on the head it’s a little nicer but I grew up in Massachusetts so I like the cold, I like playing in the cold, I always had my best games in the cold because I sweat a lot so when I was going out there it was an adjustment literally trying to get acclimated to the weather. In terms of competition there is phenomenal athletes."
"Division 1, 2, 3 all across the board you will see guys make it to the next level but what I notice was the biggest difference was all the offensive linemen and defensive linemen were huge and they were athletic."
"I mean that’s what stood out to me the most where in 1 double A you face maybe one or two colleges in the playoffs that had a couple three hundred pounders. When I got to USC everyone was over three hundred pounds they were firing off the ball they were great athletes in space so that was the biggest difference I saw in terms of skill."
What was it like to win a National Championship your senior year?
"I was incredibly blessed to be on some amazing teams there at USC as everyone knows you know Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and the year I was redshirting Carson Palmer I got to play with three Heisman winners, I don’t know how many people can say that besides my teammates that were there so that was special."
"We worked hard on defense and were always up there in terms of top of the rankings it was just an incredible journey in two years we went 25-1 and the one lose was in triple overtime at Cal to a guy named Aaron Rodgers so I know you guys like quarterbacks."
"There is a pretty good one right there. I look back and how much fun it was that stands out everyone sees that but what they don’t understand is the sacrifice all the early morning workouts, the grueling practices try to stop Landell White from running the ball then try to cover Reggie Bush when he's running routes but iron sharpens iron and I believe that’s what helped me perfect my craft and get better all my weaknesses it helped me really sharpen up my game and become well rounded."
Was there any guys that mentored you early on in your career than later see yourself being a mentor for the young guys?
"I was always blessed with a lot of really incredibly strong leaders that I got to learn from dating back to Maine several of my guys Malik Nichols a senior linebacker, Steven Cooper a guy who played in the league for eight years with the Chargers he was a beast so no shortage of leaders there as well as SC you got guys like Carson, Troy Polamalu the year I was sitting out."
"I got to study everything he did in terms of well-rounded game there was nothing that guy couldn’t do coverage, blitzing, run fits so watching him and seeing how he broke down the game was incredible we are talking about a hall of famer on of the best to ever play at safety. In the linebacker room guys like Mike Palmer, Champ Simmons, there was several guys that helped teach me the game."
"Coming from the east coast its not just learning your surroundings and now you’re in LA but its also about how they go about business and they started to turn that program around and just went to the Orange bowl 11-2 Carson and Troy's last year so it was a tight team most championships that’s what you hear, it was a family."
Talk about the moment being drafted and the Seahawks believing in you?
"Yeah I left after my junior year against everyone’s advice. All the draft guys were saying it’s a mistake he’s too small to slow he’s not going to get drafted till the 5th or 6th round but I left because I had the confidence I could play at the next level and I knew I could. When I realized Seattle really wanted me was when they traded up two 4th round picks to swap a 2nd round pick with Carolina to move up and get me at the 45th spot."
"That meant the world to me that they cared enough they went up and got me opposed to other teams were saying oh if he falls to us in the third round we will definitely take him then. Everything I did man was to try and repay them for taking that leap of faith and taking a kid that’s deemed to small."
What was it like to play with Matt Hasselbeck?
"The whole Hasselbeck family are tremendous athletes I played against the youngest one actually growing up and he was a phenomenal athlete but getting to play with Matt just the Tri Town where we grew up Tri Town Massachusetts there is a lot of pride and respect. That goes for anyone that loves their home town we take that very serious and it was awesome to have two captains from the Tri Town area on an NFL roster."
"Has that happened anywhere else where to guys from the same town or neighboring towns went on to be captains I don’t know we are going to have to look that stat up. Heard a lot about Hass, what he did at BC and then going on to the NFL and we were always proud to be from the same area so it was always nice being able to play with my guy Hass."
What was it like to play for the Seahawks organization?
"Its an incredible organization I think a thing they don’t get enough credit for is all the charitable and the work in the community they do that’s what stood out the most. That was from the top Paul Allen the late great Paul Allen, he did so much for saving football in Seattle by keeping the team here but he did so much more than that that I would like everyone to remember about the great Paul Allen how much he meant to not just the city but the state of Washington and everywhere he left his thumbprint in terms of hard work and dedication."
What did you love most about the sport?
"I loved competition the most. Like I said I wasn’t blessed to be one of the biggest, strongest, or fastest so you have to be the toughest you known or you got to have a lot of confidence going into battle knowing that you are lacking in many areas I think it test your will and how far you are willing to go and it was what I love most when I talk about competition."
"Knowing that everything on paper says I shouldn’t win this match this one on one against this guy but we are going to the one thing that you can't test which is heart we are going to see who has it here and who is willing to go the farthest to win this battle to win this game."
"On top of that something that drove me was being apart of something bigger than yourself. Being apart of a team and that’s why you hear from people that walk away the thing they miss the most of course game day your going to miss that but they miss the locker room all the laughs all the commo going through those times and struggle together as one. The two things are competition and just finding out what you are really made of and of course my teammates man those are my brothers."
Talk about Pete Carroll and what makes him a great coach and person?
"I think Pete’s best quality is his ability to motivate from a positive perspective doesn’t matter what happens and I’m telling you man when I was in college or the NFL with him didn’t matter what happened, turn the ball over 4-5 times he always believed as we all did that we were going to change the game that next play or next opportunity we got and that belief is what builds championship teams."
"Mike Holmgren winning the division and also Pete winning the division then watching him to go on and have success these teams they believe they are going to get the job done they are going to win and that’s what separates the good from the great teams coming down the stretch."
"We will see in this playoff push the teams that don’t beat themselves and believe they will win I don’t know how many close games you have to see from them but the majority of the time Pete's teams are pulling it off. It helps when you got guys like Russel Wilson, KJ Wright, and Bobby Wagner but that message and belief have to be there or it doesn’t matter."
Is there anything you have seen in Russell Wilson that is different from other QBs?
"I have seen him play through so many injuries, I have seen Hass do it its just you cant phase the guy. If that Green Bay game isn’t enough I have seen him take some vicious hits one where he had a grade two strain and I'm telling you as a guy that torn both pecs playing football, you go to grade 4 its completely off the bone which I did and I don’t know how he was throwing the ball the way he was."
"I believe that was 2015 my first year on the staff coaching and I believe he had like a 28 touchdown to 2-3 interceptions. He also had a grade 2 MCL sprain on his plant knee I mean I don’t know the guy never fails to amaze me and I'm glad he is finally getting the respect he deserves."
"Everyone has always appreciated his game but I think now as he doesn’t have a top rushing game as he doesn’t have a top defense anymore I think they are starting to understand what he really means to this team but its tough when they had Marshawn Lynch and the legion of boom and that defense for the first 6 years I mean that team was incredible but now they are relying on him a little more and he's showing up."
If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
"Be more open minded not that I didn’t have the willingness to learn more I was a film junkie but in terms of technique wise there was some areas that I wish I got to work on a little more and just ask more questions I think that’s the biggest thing and not just for my defensive coaches but offensive guys I mean you got all these guys you are trying to beat."
"When you go to practice they don’t want to give you tips but they are there for advice to and they will help you beat the competition when you go to game day so I wish I asked offensive line hand placement in terms of pass rushing, I wish I asked quarterbacks cause I had to run cover two, how likely are you to take the shot if the guys in position cause then I could of made a couple plays on the shorter routes."
"So my advice never stop learning asking and trying to get better, I feel like I always did but there are times you are afraid of being wrong or looking stupid and it's like there is no such thing as a stupid question. If you sit there without the answers you are going to look stupid on some situations on gameday so always ask question keep getting better."
Any recruiting tips?
“This comes from personal experience, you better have a plan it’s unfortunate that your not going to play your senior season, that’s the case for the kids around here. Personally if you have few options coming out of Highschool, I started to develop a plan. I don’t care if I have to go to Junior college, prep school I couldn’t afford it so that wasn’t an option, it was really coming down to junior college to get more exposure."
"I was going to travel out to Texas or California because that’s where the power houses are. Not to say you have to do that, but a lot of my friends that’s play with me at SC, played in Junior college. They had their pick from any school they wanted but they picked SC and won a national Championship. Definitely send your tape out, there’s so many different way to get it out there, I saw a kid in basketball put his highlights on Twitter and got a scholarship from that."
"There’s so many ways, I have to record myself on VS tape and send them out like that. Your lucky if that gets in front of someone that’s makes decisions. Regardless, have a plan, my plan after I looked at the three schools that wanted me to play, Maine wanted me to play linebacker. I felt like Maine was the best option."
"I think that’s why I got a look from Southern California. So have a plan, if your the kids whose blessed to have all these options, look at the coach, look how that system have developed people who play the same position as you. Did they send guys to the next level?? Or have they at least got them better from start to finish?"
"Those are things I was taking into consideration 20 years ago and I just wish I had more Of a Avenue to get my film out, as these kids do now. Have a plan, once you have a plan you know how to go about your business. If your like I will just go here and see what happens your not setting yourself up for success."
What are some things athletes should focus on for development?
“Gaining weight is the most overrated advice, I was told I was to small, and I think I weighed around 205-210 at the end of my senior year. I was told I was to small and put on a bunch of weight, it wasn’t great weight, I started moving slower and I was just like what did I do to myself. Stay fast as long as you can and doesn’t matter because force is all that matters. How much force you put into the ground, how much force you put into your opponent. That comes from speed."
"So if you get bigger, you will get slower if your not moving it the right way. So development wise, I wish I got with a track coach, to develop proper mechanics of running. That’s probably wild for kids to hear, you played in the NFL and you don’t know how to run? Like yes and I still don’t but a little better than I use too but just the proper things with it."
"That alone will keep you from a lot of injuries, if you have a proper foundation, you won’t waste as much energy when doing it the right way. I stayed fast and got with a track coach to learn proper mechanics. When it’s the fourth quarter and your tired you can just focus on the play, your not tired sucking wind worried about that. technique wins, you have time to put on weight, your still growing and I wish someone told me that back in the day.”
Where do you see the Seahawks ending up this season?
“It looks like they strengthen that defense, we made some trades to help that pass rush, Carlos Dunlap has been outstanding. The secondary is getting keep players back, and we’re excited. Then on offense Russ is getting some help with Carson and Hyde. Play action will actually hold the Linebackers and second level defenders, they actually have to respect the run now. During that patch of like a month we’re we had to count on the rookies and they did a great job."
"They just, if I’m a veteran linebacker I’m not biting on that play action. You have to prove that you can run. So that why the lanes got a little tighter and that’s why those interceptions may have happened. They are getting healthy at the right time, I see them and the 2 other teams making the postseason. Rams, cardinals and us will all see the postseason."
"If they can somehow get to that first place spot, which is tough with the saints but they are only one game behind, if they get home field, even without the fans, their streak of winning there has been incredible. If they get home field they will make it to the Super Bowl. Hopefully we can relive on our running backs later in the season.”
What made you want to start your CBD brand?
“Honestly I have heard a lot and was looking for a natural help. I have had 15 concussions and 10 surgeries that’s a lot to go through mentally, emotionally and physically. That’s a lot for a lifetime let alone 8 years but I was hearing more and more about CBD, the more research I did articles, books anything I could get my hands on. I bought a bunch of products and wanted to see what was real and if all this information was true. The reason I started this was because it brought me back to my best self, everything."
"I feel more in the moment. My best performance against Philly, I was totally emerged in the moment, you can’t miss. That’s where we got the name Zone In. We are coming out with a new product and it’s a energy mix and to help you get more focus and Zoned in. After all those years of injuries and football I gained a little weight and it’s helped me lose weight and feel better. My new mission in life to spread the message about CBD.”
How have you handled the pandemic? Any new hobbies?
“Yeah definitely, retail was cut off and a lot of people we not going out shopping. So we took our efforts to e-commerce and get more people on our website. Trying to inform people what it is. In other news I started a Seahawks podcast, I been watching the team a lot so I just basically just show up and talk about football thankfully because of my team. I also have two kids and didn’t realize how fast they are growing.”