Last updated December 6, 2007 10:49 p.m. PT
By JIM MOORE
KIRKLAND -- You couldn't miss Lofa Tatupu last Sunday and on this week's highlight shows. Everyone is either talking about him, watching him or wanting a piece of him after the Seahawks middle linebacker intercepted three passes in Philadelphia.
He's a local star turned national phenomenon -- Tatupu was named the NFC defensive player of the week and has gotten so much exposure that the gambling Web site, Bodog, introduced a proposition bet in his honor on Thursday.
You can wager on Tatupu's total number of interceptions in his next four games, with zero being a 3-2 favorite, and three or more the longest shot at 3-1. (For the benefit of potential partakers, one is even money and two is 2-1.)
Tatupu does not like to be singled out. He appreciates it and says he's grateful and doesn't want anyone to take this wrong, but can you just leave him alone now?
"I don't like interviews," Tatupu said. "I don't see the point. They're not for me."
He routinely turns down requests for TV interviews but did one in Philadelphia because "I felt like I had to." He was asked to do a radio interview Wednesday night and said no to that one, too.
He's not rude with his rejections; it's just that the whole Q&A thing seems silly, especially if Tatupu's the topic.
"I had one good game," he said. "I don't know why some people make such a big deal about it. Three interceptions. It'll be done again, guaranteed. I'm just a football player. It is what it is. It's gonna be over someday."
For three hours each weekend, the Tatupu we see is tenacious and tough, all over the field, making reads and tackles. Defensive end Patrick Kerney calls him nasty.
But when the games end, Kerney said he's something else -- "polite and mildmannered, the nicest guy you'd ever meet. I've never seen his pulse quicken off the field."
Defensive coordinator John Marshall said he's "jovial, fun-loving, always upbeat." And this from coach Mike Holmgren: "A real pleasure, a coach's dream and very popular with his teammates."
"He treats everyone the same, whether you're a superstar or someone who just got on the team," said linebacker Julian Peterson, who noted that Tatupu will invite new players to have meals at his house.
Tatupu lives with his girlfriend, Rachael Marcott, and Bailey the fox terrier. He says he prefers pit bulls and that Bailey is Marcott's dog, but it sounds like it's his, too, just don't tell anyone.
"He's annoying, but I love the little guy," Tatupu said.
At home, he plays "Halo," an Xbox video game, and says he has done it for five to six hours at a time "with bathroom breaks and food breaks."
"It's kind of nerdy, but I love it," he said.
As a "Halo" gamer, Tatupu said he's "awesome, the best there is," before admitting that he's "not bad."
Kevin Hobbs, one of the best "Halo" players on the team, said of Tatupu: "He's OK. He averages about 10 to 15 kills a game. That's pretty good for him."
Tatupu also enjoys working on jigsaw puzzles, saying: "I like 'em, they keep me busy."
You can learn more about him at lofatatupu.com than you can from talking to the man himself. As you would expect, the Web site was his mom's idea, not his.
At lofatatupu.com, you discover that his mom taught him to box as a kid, that he started lifting weights at the age of 11 and that Maine was the only school that offered him a scholarship out of high school. He later transferred to USC. You can also read his favorite quote that sums him up as well as anything:
"When you know in your heart that you're doing what you love, are as well-prepared as time permits and can sense the level of commitment and involvement from those around and above you, an inner strength begins to grow.
"This inner strength can fortify and sustain you while those less dedicated and conditioned will fall prey to debilitating self doubt, negative thoughts and fortitude fatigue."
"That stuck with me," Tatupu said. "It has everything. It's about dedication, and how bad do you want it, really?"
His mom gave him the quote, but he doesn't know who said it, just that it means a lot.
But if you're looking to go deeper, you'll need more than 10 minutes and Tatupu's about to hit the shower. If you wanted to talk about anyone else, he'd have more time.
Tatupu leads the team in tackles but is the 46th-highest-paid Seahawk at about $440,000 this season. It's not that it bothers him; he just doesn't want to talk about that either.
Lighten up, and he'll loosen up. Tatupu will tell you how much fun he has being a comedian around his teammates. He laughs when he talks about a brown briefcase that mysteriously showed up in the locker room, and no one knows where it came from, only that it goes on road trips and they haven't lost since.
To and from the Seahawks practice facility, Tatupu drives a Cadillac CTS-V with a Corvette engine: "I like to go fast," he said.
Which is typical for someone his age. But this isn't:
"I was still trying to get it at 25," Peterson said, "and he's already there."