Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Christian Tupou, 26, who has bounced around the NFL trying to stick with a team since 2012, after his sterling career at University of Southern Caifornia, has been using his off-season to prepare for life after football, working for a month as an intern with state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.
Tupou, who hails from Sacramento, studied political science at USC and is smart enough to know his football days may come to a crashing halt at any time. He told the Sacramento Bee, “My NFL career is volatile. I’ve got to look for career #2. I can always train, but in terms of bettering myself…I just took a leap of faith.”
While he has worked for Nielsen, Tupou has dropped by committee hearings and examined how the state government works. He said he learned that politics resembled football because of the “team vibe,” but jokingly bemoaned “the grind of working these long hours.” He told the Bee that he liked the altruistic nature of politics, remarking, “Football is a ‘me, me, me’ sport. And here it’s, ‘What can I do for you?’”
Tupou found himself fascinated by the aspects of the budget process, including how the state gets its funds and how different interests attempt to secure funding. He also commented on Assembly Bill 202, the bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown that protects the rights of professional cheerleaders by labeling them employees of the teams they work for. He said, “I’m all for it. They put in work. They’re out there on the field with us, too.”
After his college career, Tupou was undrafted, but he was signed by the Chicago Bears in 2012 and played five games for them in 2013. He signed with the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts on January 3, 2014, then signed with the San Francisco 49ers on January 22, but was released on May 14, 2014. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals in May 2014, was released in August, then re-signed with their practice squad. In October 2014, he signed with the Cleveland Browns practice squad.
NFL.Com described Tupou, 6’2’, 289, as “a try-hard, unathletic, low-production player, but also a high-character type nose tackle.”