By Nick Wagoner
As if walking the fine line between reckless and fearless wasn’t difficult unto itself, imagine sprinting across that line with no regard for your health all the while have a giant chip attached to your shoulder.
Now picture running across that line at a high rate of speed only to be met in the middle by guys who outweigh you by 50, sometimes even 100 pounds.
At 6’1 and a weight normally between 235 and 240 pounds, this is the internal struggle that manifests physically every season for linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.
And for the past three seasons, without fail, Tinoisamoa has suffered a variety of injuries. Of those injuries, some were minor and Tinoisamoa was able to play through them (such as the shoulder he continually dislocated and played through in 2005). Others were season ending as Tinoisamoa found himself on injured reserve, bringing his seasons to an abrupt ending each of the past two seasons.
“This is my self analyzation,” Tinoisamoa said. “Mentally, I had this huge chip on my shoulder saying you are not big enough to play this game so everything I did I tried to do it full speed. I was hitting guys two times bigger than me way harder than I needed to; it was just reckless at times. There was no need to do a lot of the things I did but I did it.”
For his first three seasons in the NFL, Tinoisamoa did those things better than just about anyone else. Maybe he was undersized but his hustle, desire and fearless approach to the game helped him rack up 121, 145 and 134 tackles in his first three years.By the end of the 2005 season, Tinoisamoa had cemented a reputation as a relentless tackler unafraid to take on any blocker. Despite taking as many crushing blows as he dealt, Tinoisamoa played every game that trio of seasons.