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 Post subject: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:34 am 
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http://articles.boston.com/2012-07-08/s ... on-effects

Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
Sunday Football Notes
July 08, 2012 | Greg A. Bedard


Lofa Tatupu finally signed with the Falcons in March. Now, he is battling with 2011 third round pick Akeem Dent for the starting spot vacated by free agent Curtis Lofton.

Lofa Tatupu finally signed with the Falcons in March. Now, he is battling… (AP/File )

It seemed a bit curious.

A Pro Bowl player his first three seasons in the NFL — including an All-Pro berth in 2007 — Lofa Tatupu’s career appeared to be over at 29 when the phone didn’t ring after he was released by the Seahawks nearly a year ago.

The former King Philip star and son of late Patriots fullback Mosi Tatupu thought about hanging up the cleats, as well.

“At a certain point, I just stopped working out,’’ Tatupu said recently. ‘‘I thought it was over. I was really ready to send those [retirement] papers in.’’

Tatupu had come to a mutual agreement with the Seahawks on his release after he refused to take a paycut.

Six seasons and 84 starts at middle linebacker after being a second-round pick in 2005, Tatupu was an unrestricted free agent.

He sat out the 2011 season, which got people wondering, including Patriots fans who dreamed of another Tatupu suiting up in Foxborough (at 6 feet, Lofa is a bit small for New England's scheme).

Tatupu finally signed with the Falcons in March. Now, he is battling with 2011 third-round pick Akeem Dent for the starting spot vacated by free agent Curtis Lofton.

“I’m excited about the whole process and just being back playing ball again,’’ Tatupu said. “You’ve got to knock a little rust off, but for the most part it’s second nature, especially as a middle linebacker. You’re supposed to know what everybody is doing. You’re supposed to be the field general. From that standpoint, I really wasn’t taken aback by it. I just come in and do what I do.’’

Most in the NFL thought Tatupu was done when even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Tatupu’s coach at Southern Cal, decided not to keep him.

There were whispers that he was suffering from concussion effects or other injuries. It’s true that Tatupu had trouble staying healthy, which was likely a byproduct of his size. Thumb and knee injuries hampered him in 2008. The following season, Tatupu had a hamstring injury, and then a torn pectoral muscle ended his season after five games. In 2010, Tatupu started all 16 games but was slowed by injuries to both knees that required postseason surgery.

Still, Tatupu said he didn’t not catch on last season because of injuries.

“It wasn’t my choice,” said Tatupu, who received a two-year contract from the Falcons. “It wasn’t anything to do with concussions or lingering injuries. I was ready to play last season. I got released, like a lot of people did, and I just didn’t catch on with anybody.”

The Falcons probably had a little pause when Tatupu missed time in organized team activities with a pulled hamstring.

“That’s behind me, we were smart with it, now I’m ready to roll,” Tatupu said.

When training camp begins later this month, Tatupu and Dent will battle for the starting job.

It helps Tatupu a bit that both players are learning the scheme being installed by new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

“We’ve had some growing pains going through it and learning together,” Tatupu said. “Me and Dent, I know it’s been a publicized competition, which it is, but we’ve been learning together and really helpful in each other’s growth process.”

Dent said it’s been helpful to have a veteran to learn alongside.

“We’re learning together, watching film, making corrections,” Dent said. “He’s helping me out a lot in terms of trying to understand everything. A guy like Lofa, that has been to the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro player, it’s been great for me.

“I’m a competitor. I know he’s a competitor also, but at the end of the day it’s good for the Falcons to have two guys that will be ready to play at any point.”

Nolan’s scheme will morph between a 4-3 and 3-4, the latter of which is Nolan’s starting point historically. Nolan said the Falcons’ personnel is still set up for a 4-3, so that will be the predominant scheme. But Tatupu said he likes the variety.

“I just like how much it disguises things that we’re doing,” Tatupu said. “I’m looking forward to that aspect and you can play a little more free that way when you know exactly where your help is going to be and how you want to disguise things to show the offense what they think you’re running.”

At least Tatupu, after a strange year off, is back playing. It might not last long, and he has plans to follow in his father’s footsteps as a coach (Mosi coached at King Philip and Curry College).

“I’ve got to be around the game,” Lofa Tatupu said. “When all is said and done, I’m going to coach or I’m going to do something that has to do with this game, because I just love it so much.’’

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:35 am 
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Leave it up to a paper 1100 miles away to write a good, in-depth article about one of the Falcons players. Starting to get a bit more optimistic about Mike Nolan's scheme and the subsequent improvements defensively.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:22 am 
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Nolan seems like a smart coach. He obviously has a pretty decent track record. I haven't had much negative to say about either of our new coordinators. I just hope that they are less conservative than the previous guys.


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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:23 am 
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Quote:
“I just like how much it disguises things that we’re doing,”

:mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:32 am 
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again,I dont wanna be Debbie Downer Image

But here's what I take away from that column...

Guy couldn't stay healthy, and when cut and no team expressed interest considered retirement...

And now the Falcons took a 2 year flier, he injured himself ( hamstring ) before he even reports to OTA's.

Superbowl Baby! :dance: :doh:

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:56 pm 
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So what? Tatupu doesn't have to be a star with the Falcons. He just needs to be competent. Contrary to popular belief, that's really all the Falcons have gotten out of the position the past three seasons with Lofton. Tatupu is a stopgap. He's a stopgap to either Dent stepping in and filling the spot long-term (which is probably the Falcons hope), or he's a stopgap to someone else doing the job. But he's an experienced veteran that is a good, vocal leader (similar to Mike Peterson).

If he doesn't stay healthy, it's not going to be a huge deal. The Falcons are going to play a lot of nickel as their base package this year anyway, and he wasn't going to get a ton of reps to begin with. And it's likely that the team will rotate him, Dent, and Nicholas at the spot opposite Weatherspoon.

The Falcons have 11 starters, and the MLB technically isn't going to be one of them. He'll be the 12th man. They signed him to 2-yrs, $5.75M which is lower than what we gave Mike Peterson 3 years ago (2 yrs./$6.6M) to perform a similar role. If Tatupu struggles this year, then it's really only a 1-yr. $2.75M investment (that's his 2012 cap hit).

The Falcons didn't sign Tatupu to be a major upgrade at the position, they signed him to be able to maintain the status quo, which I think he'll be able to help do. So I don't know what is to be "down" about that.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:15 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
The Falcons didn't sign Tatupu to be a major upgrade at the position, they signed him to be able to maintain the status quo, which I think he'll be able to help do. So I don't know what is to be "down" about that.



I agree this guy wasn't going to set the league on fire, but if he is injured and cannot play at all, how is that the status quo? He already had a hammy before he put on a jersey..

If this guy gets injured, do you think he is going to fight to get back on the field? I don't. I think he will be just as happy to ride the pine and get a check. His comments above bolster that theory. I also understand that he wasn't signed to 'compete', but as depth. If he can stay healthy, and can keep his mind right: that's great. But like P Jerry or Norwood, this guy gets hurt alot.......

I guess your saying this guy wasn't going to make or break the Defense, and I would agree with that. Im just not convinced he can make it through 16 games. Hopefully I am wrong. :ninja:

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:56 pm 
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I would not question the competitive drive of Lofa Tatupu, who played on two bad knees during his final year in Seattle. His knees were so beat up that he couldn't even practice during those weeks, but played every Sunday.

Will he make it through all 16 games? Who knows, but it's probably not something I would put a big wager on. But if he can give us 8, 10, 12 games where he plays at a level comparable to Curtis Lofton, that IMO is well worth $2.75 million.

And assuming Dent/Nicholas aren't terrible the remainder, then we'll be good to go. And the Falcons can always place a call to Mike Peterson if need be.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:02 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
I would not question the competitive drive of Lofa Tatupu, who played on two bad knees during his final year in Seattle. His knees were so beat up that he couldn't even practice during those weeks, but played every Sunday.

Will he make it through all 16 games? Who knows, but it's probably not something I would put a big wager on. But if he can give us 8, 10, 12 games where he plays at a level comparable to Curtis Lofton, that IMO is well worth $2.75 million.

And assuming Dent/Nicholas aren't terrible the remainder, then we'll be good to go. And the Falcons can always place a call to Mike Peterson if need be.


yeah, good point. I htought Peterson had gotten signed, but your right we could probably find a stopgap just in case none of them pan out. Im quietly hoping Nicholas will show me something special this season, and we wont even need to see Lofa, save for spelling the other 2..

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:01 am 
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Everybody really beat up Thomas D. on the " Dent" pick but I think he beats out Tatupa; and in addition can cover
a lot more ground for pass protection. He's got to do it; but I think he wins the competition without all that much trouble.

I like Tatupa; but I don't think you don't just not get picked up by any team in the league. I'm not down on Tatupa but I'm up
on Dent.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:45 am 
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I think Tatupu's not getting picked up had a lot to do with him trying to find the right situation. I think his mutual decision to part with Seattle indicates that he wasn't just going to go somewhere else to collect a check. The Raiders did kick his tires last August after he got cut. But you also have to consider that there weren't a ton of injuries last year at MLB on teams that didn't have a viable backup candidate. You look at somebody like Indianapolis that when Gary Brackett went down, they still had Pat Angerer. Carolina had Dan Connor. So you didn't have a lot of opportunities for other teams to go out and plug in a veteran starting MLB, and thus there was little to no market for a player like him. And especially when he's coming off double surgery on his knees.

I don't think his not playing last year is as big a red flag as people want to make it out to be.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Quote:
I don't think his not playing last year is as big a red flag as people want to make it out to be.



Respectfully disagree. Unless you are a TO or Randy Moss s*** disturber type, (which Tatupu is not) something kept him off a roster last year. Obviously it was the injury and he wasn't healthy enough to play....or some team would have took a flyer on him.

Is he completely healthy this year? Of course he's going to say he is, he wants to get paid. He isn't on the PUP list, yet, but I don't expect him to be fully up to speed this year all things considered.


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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:54 pm 
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AngryJohnny51 wrote:
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I don't think his not playing last year is as big a red flag as people want to make it out to be.



Respectfully disagree. Unless you are a TO or Randy Moss s*** disturber type, (which Tatupu is not) something kept him off a roster last year. Obviously it was the injury and he wasn't healthy enough to play....or some team would have took a flyer on him.

Is he completely healthy this year? Of course he's going to say he is, he wants to get paid. He isn't on the PUP list, yet, but I don't expect him to be fully up to speed this year all things considered.



How does it work with Candian/Arena/Europe Football? What I mean is, suppose nobody picked up Lofa last year, but he was healthy and still wanted to play.... If he signs with one of these other leagues, does he forfeit his right to play in the NFL? Or is there something besides possible career ending injury that prevents guys from going down to the 'minors' ?

Because rather then sit out a whole year, wouldn't it make more sense to play somewhere, anywhere ( Like K Warner ) rather then get fat and consider filing retirement papers? Just curious.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:14 pm 
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fun gus wrote:
AngryJohnny51 wrote:
Quote:
I don't think his not playing last year is as big a red flag as people want to make it out to be.



Respectfully disagree. Unless you are a TO or Randy Moss s*** disturber type, (which Tatupu is not) something kept him off a roster last year. Obviously it was the injury and he wasn't healthy enough to play....or some team would have took a flyer on him.

Is he completely healthy this year? Of course he's going to say he is, he wants to get paid. He isn't on the PUP list, yet, but I don't expect him to be fully up to speed this year all things considered.



How does it work with Candian/Arena/Europe Football? What I mean is, suppose nobody picked up Lofa last year, but he was healthy and still wanted to play.... If he signs with one of these other leagues, does he forfeit his right to play in the NFL? Or is there something besides possible career ending injury that prevents guys from going down to the 'minors' ?

Because rather then sit out a whole year, wouldn't it make more sense to play somewhere, anywhere ( Like K Warner ) rather then get fat and consider filing retirement papers? Just curious.


I don't think there is anything that prohibits a player to going to the "minors" unless they are under contract by an NFL team still. I'm just speculating here, but the Canadian League and other sub-NFL leagues are for young players who are mostly trying to hone their skills and get noticed by the NFL. Veteran NFL players rarely go North, because they know they are one injury away from ever playing again. The exception are ex-NFL'er in trouble with the law and so on. I'm not sure that helped you but....


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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:52 pm 
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I just don't understand why it is unfathomable for people to process the idea that a guy could take a wait and see approach and try to find the right opportunity rather than any opportunity. To me, that is exactly what Lofa Tatupu did.

Look, he had legit injury concerns/question marks last year. Nobody is denying that. Why would a team take a flyer on a soon to be 30-year old MLB that has some knee issues when they can wait until after the season and potentially sign a 27 or 28-year old free agent or draft a promising 22-year old in the draft without such question marks?

Tatupu IMO is at the point in his career that most veterans are in their late twenties and thirties, which is that you can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as your playing career goes. And so then, it's not about just taking any opportunity to play, you start to look for the right opportunities. He was a Pro Bowl MLB on a Super Bowl team as a rookie, and I'm sure at that point in his career he thought he was going to many more Pro Bowls and many more Super Bowls. But then fast forward 7 years later and he's been worn down by injuries, he's with his 3rd head coach in Seattle, and the team is ready to move on and go young. And so he and the team mutually decide to part ways.

If it was purely about "I just want to play," then he would have taken the paycut the Seahawks asked him to, and that would have been the end of it. He'd have been a Seahawk potentially on the PUP. But it wasn't just about playing for anybody, it was about playing for the right team that could give him similar opportunities that he had early in his carer, which is being in a key role on a winning team. And those types of opportunities just don't spring up come October or November that often. Where were those opportunities last year? Easy answer, there were none.

But people are judging in a vacuum and thinking, "Well if he could play, then he should have played. And therefore, if he wasn't playing, then it means he couldn't play."

And maybe he couldn't. But guess what, now he can! The team doctors passed him on the physical and the Falcons are only paying him $1.05 million this year, with a maximum of $1.7 million (based on Pat Y's contract figures). That extra $650,000 is from bonuses he gets from every game he plays in ($40,625 per game).

I just don't get why people are so pessimistic about this situation. "He didn't play last year, that means something!" Yeah, it means he didn't play last year.

And FYI, the CFL does contracts that only allow players to sign NFL contracts through a finite 2 or 3 week period in like January. Plus the CFL season begins in July and ends in November. So by the time Tatupu was available and potentially healthy enough to play, and would have exhausted his chance to come back to the NFL (October?), the CFL season would have been practically over. And the AFL season ends in August, just around the time when Tatupu first got cut.

Established veterans don't go to the CFL because they don't need to. The CFL is for young guys that don't quite catch on with an NFL team. For example, ex-Falcons like Ronald Flemons, Terrence Edwards, Brian Bratton, Romby Bryant, Aaron Kelly, and Daren Stone are currently on CFL rosters. Former NFL players like Ahmad Carroll, Ricardo Colclough, Xavier Fulton, Sinorice Moss, Chris Ellis, etc. find themselves playing in Canada. It's not for players like Lofa Tatupu or Mike Peterson or Ovie Mughelli or whoever that have established NFL careers. It's not fear of their own injury, it's the fact that if someone else in the league gets hurt, they can get a phone call. Not to mention a player like Tatupu has probably made anywhere between $20-30 million from his NFL career, that he doesn't need the much smaller check that Canadian players get to survive, or at least he shouldn't.

It's like a pro coach going to college. Jim Mora is now at UCLA, but he didn't need to jump to the college game 5 years ago because he still had a lot more pro coaching he could do. And he got those opportunities. And it's only now that he's exhausted those pro head coaching opportunities that he now turns to the college game.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:23 pm 
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I just don't understand why it is unfathomable for people to process the idea that a guy could take a wait and see approach and try to find the right opportunity rather than any opportunity. To me, that is exactly what Lofa Tatupu did.


Maybe.....but I just don't see it. If you're in the prime age of your career, you make as much money as possible and play as much as possible. You're only one play away from the unemployment line.

As for the wait and see approach for the right situation? I don't buy that. That excuse is reserved for future Hall of Famers who had been stuck on crappy teams their whole careers and want one last shot at a ring with a true contender. Lofa has not earned that right.

Quote:
Look, he had legit injury concerns/question marks last year. Nobody is denying that. Why would a team take a flyer on a soon to be 30-year old MLB that has some knee issues when they can wait until after the season and potentially sign a 27 or 28-year old free agent or draft a promising 22-year old in the draft without such question marks?


So, isn't that exactly what we did? Except it should read "Take a flyer on a soon to be 30 year old with knee issues and who has been out of the game for a year?" Hey - I have nothing against the guy and I hope he comes in and kicks immediate ass. But, the deck is stacked against him from doing that.


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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:13 pm 
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AngryJohnny51 wrote:
As for the wait and see approach for the right situation? I don't buy that. That excuse is reserved for future Hall of Famers who had been stuck on crappy teams their whole careers and want one last shot at a ring with a true contender. Lofa has not earned that right.

Sorry I disagree. This is the exact same approach that players take in free agency. Tatupu was a free agent for the first time in his career, and he didn't rush to sign with just anybody. Yes, most free agents follow the money because it's about getting the biggest pay day you can possibly get in March. But in September, October, you're only going to make veteran minimum. To a guy like Tatupu who signed a $40 million extension 4 years ago with $18 million guaranteed, making $750,000 is chump change. He doesn't need to bite at that.

Prime of his career? Tatupu was 29 last year. The prime of his career was the previous 5 years.

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:24 pm 
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Pudge wrote:

Prime of his career? Tatupu was 29 last year. The prime of his career was the previous 5 years.


*cough cough* Injuries *cough cough*

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 Post subject: Re: Lofa Tatupu back in game with Falcons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:50 am 
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Keith Brooking was 33 when the Falcons dumped him. Mike Peterson was 34 when the Falcons first tried to wash their hands of him.

Tatupu was approaching age 29 last November, and the point is that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe he would have 3 or 4 years left before teams decided that he should hang it up.

It's ridiculous to say that he hasn't earned the right to choose how he wants to spend the last 3 or 4 years of his football-playing career.

He was legitimately hurt last year. No one is denying that. But he's healthy now. But everyone wants to write him off because he spent 5 months away from the game, and during that time he contemplated whether or not it was the end. But guess what folks? He healed. And his passion for the game returned. And now he's a Falcon.

I just don't get why there is so much pessimism. Tatupu played fairly well his last year in Seattle, then he got hurt. And now he's relatively healthy. He had the same surgery that Curtis Lofton had, and Lofton returned from that injury just fine. But of course part of the reason why Lofton is no longer a Falcon because the team wasn't entirely trusting of his long-term knee health. And therefore, the Falcons decided that for that situation, it's better to guarantee Tatupu $1.3 million as opposed to the $7.8 million guaranteed that Lofton got from New Orleans.

I just don't get why everyone is so down on this move. IMHO, it's the smartest personnel decision that Dimitroff has made since the Gonzalez trade.

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