Linebacker Tinoisamoa happy to be newest Bear

  • Pisa Tinoisamoa

    Pisa Tinoisamoa

Published6/4/2009 12:01 AM

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, the newest Bear, has been around long enough to know the business side of football.

But he admits it still was a jolt when the St. Louis Rams cut him after six seasons, even though he was their leading tackler four of those years.


"It is a shock because, even though you see it happening around the league, you say, 'It's not going to happen to me,' " the seventh-year veteran said after Wednesday's OTA practice at Halas Hall.

"It's like when you say, 'If I eat all these vegetables and Acai berries and fruit and stuff, then I'm going to live forever. But the reality is you're not going to live forever. That's how it was in St. Louis.

"I saw last year with Brett Favre, all the drama that was going on with him and I thought, 'That could be me one day.' And then it happened to (former teammates) Torry (Holt), it happened to Orlando (Pace), and there was talk about me."

And then it happened to Tinoisamoa. The Rams cut him on May 8, even though he had a team-best and career-high 135 tackles last season. But he also had a $4.25 million base salary, and new head coach Steve Spagnuolo decided to go a different direction.

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A different direction is exactly what Tinoisamoa had in mind after suffering through the last two years on Rams teams that went 5-27. That's why he gladly accepted the Bears' offer, even though he could have made more money elsewhere.

The Bears' offer did not include any guarantee of a starting spot, although Tinoisamoa is expected to win the spot on the strong side.

"Just the chance to be on a winning team is worth it to me, he said. "I've been fortunate to get paid in this league, and that was good, but I still had to go home a loser. I'd give all the money back if I could win again."

For now, Nick Roach, who won the job from Hunter Hillenmeyer halfway through last season, remains the Bears' starter. That's fine with Tinoisamoa, who wouldn't have felt right being handed someone else's job.

"There were opportunities to go to other teams," he said, "(and) it was like, 'We're going to give you the job.' For me, that was awkward. I know there were guys who had been working since the end of last season, and they felt like they were the starter.

"Now, all of a sudden, somebody comes in and, just because he led another team in tackles, he takes their job?

"I wouldn't appreciate that. So I didn't want to go into a situation like that. The fact that I have to earn a job definitely makes me more hungry because now I know it's not just given to me."


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