Lofa Tatupu tries to bounce back with Atlanta | NFL
Lofa Tatupu started to believe his career was over as he spent the 2011 season away football. After his release from the Seattle Seahawks...
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Lofa Tatupu started to believe his career was over as he spent the 2011 season away football.
After his release from the Seattle Seahawks before last season, Tatupu said his only chances with other teams were as an outside linebacker. Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker with Seattle, wasn't looking to change positions.
When he realized he wasn't going to play last season he began to lose hope and considered filing his retirement papers.
"At a certain point, I just stopped working out," Tatupu said Tuesday. "I thought it was over. I was really ready to send those papers in."
A call this year from Tatupu's agent, Fletcher Smith, changed the linebacker's outlook.
"He called me and said, 'Do you want to go play?' " Tatupu said. "I said absolutely. He told me the options and I said 'Yes, I'm going to go work out right now.' "
One of those options was the Atlanta Falcons, who need help at the position after Curtis Lofton signed with the Saints.
Tatupu, 29, opened minicamp with the Falcons on Tuesday, competing with Akeem Dent for the starting middle linebacker job and relishing the rebirth of his career.
"I'm excited about the whole process and just being back playing ball again," Tatupu said.
Tatupu signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract with Atlanta.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tatupu is expected to push Dent, a third-round pick from Georgia in 2011.
"Lofa is a very experienced player and we anticipate he and Akeem should have a good battle this training camp," Smith said.
The Falcons re-signed many of their free agents but the loss of Lofton, who led the team in tackles the past three years, was significant.
"I just hope I bring the veteran leadership," Tatupu said. "I know Curtis, he's a hell of a ballplayer and I know they're missing that with his departure. I'm hoping to take up where he left off."
• With a 13-minute, nearly 1,500-word prepared statement, Anthony Hargrove emphatically said that it was not his voice in the video clip used as evidence in the New Orleans Saints' bounty investigation.
One day after Hargrove and three of his former Saints teammates formally appealed their suspensions, the Green Bay Packers defensive end held an informal news conference outside the NFL offices.
In a passionate, direct tone, Hargrove broke his silence and maintained his innocence.
The video captures Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt speaking to players on the sideline during the third quarter of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Vitt told the players that Brett Favre was out of the game with a serious leg injury, which turned out to be incorrect.
Hargrove, who appears in and out of the camera shot, supposedly said to teammate Bobby McCray, "Bobby, give me my money."
Hargrove — currently suspended eight games — insists it is not his voice.
"Here's the problem with that," Hargrove said in the extended statement. "It wasn't me. That's right. The NFL got their evidence all wrong. In their rush to convict me, they made a very serious error. Is it intentional? I don't know. But one thing I do know with absolute certainty: It. Was. Not. Me!"
• Tennessee has agreed to terms on a multi-year deal with safety Michael Griffin after designating the five-year veteran as their franchise player in March. Griffin agreed to a five-year contract worth $35 million, including $15 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.