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Thread: Losses gnaw at Tinoisamoa
Losses gnaw at Tinoisamoa
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa confers with interim coach Joe Vitt last month in Houston.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In a corner of the steamy, cramped visitors quarters at the Metrodome, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa slumps in front of his locker. His Rams teammates buzz about, quietly preparing for the flight back to St. Louis.
Tinoisamoa just sits, his back to the room, staring into nothingness. While others are showered and dressed, Tinoisamoa still is in full uniform. Even his wristbands remain in place.
Finally, after several more silent minutes, Tinoisamoa struggles to his feet and for help in tugging his No. 50 jersey over his shoulder pads.
Tinoisamoa, 24, never has been a good loser. He used to respond with his fists - at 18, he served a four-month jail sentence for his involvement in a fight in which a man was seriously beaten.
Scared straight, he learned to apply his aggression on the football field. Coach June Jones brought him to Hawaii when other colleges backed off, concerned about Tinoisamoa's gang activity in his hometown of Vista, Calif.
"He had some tough times in high school," Jones said. "But he's a good kid. . . . And the guy is a player. He's smart, and he's got the charisma all the great ones have."
The Rams took Tinoisamoa in the second round of the 2003 draft, and coach Mike Martz named him a starter at weakside linebacker on the first day of rookie minicamp.
Undersized at 6 feet 1 and 235 pounds, Tinoisamoa compensates with 4.6 speed and an uncommon relentlessness.
"He gets to the ballcarrier with a bad attitude," fellow linebacker Trev Faulk said.
Tinoisamoa became the first rookie to lead the Rams in tackles, with 121. He had 145 last season, again a team high. He's atop the list this year, too, with 112.
"It's not a potion I take or anything," Tinoisamoa said. "I've just got a great will. I want to be around the ball; I know that's where the action is."
Tinoisamoa was left standing when the Rams decided to overhaul the linebacker position after last season. Tommy Polley left as a free agent, and Robert Thomas was traded to Green Bay.
The moves jolted Tinoisamoa a bit but didn't dent his confidence.
"It's just the NFL, I think," he said. "I don't take it personal, and I don't look at it as anything I'm excelling at. I don't say, 'Oh, well, that's all right. I'm doing well because I'm still here.' I want to be successful as a team."
When free agents Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne arrived, Tinoisamoa figured that adjusting to the newcomers would be a significant challenge.
"But it's just a scheme, and everyone's got to fit in certain places on certain plays," he said. "That's all it is."
Coakley, who manned the strong side, suffered a season- ending leg injury two weeks ago. Claiborne lost his starting job at middle linebacker to Faulk.
Overall, the defense has spiraled downward. Injuries have played a part, but so have a mounting sum of missed tackles and blown assignments. The Rams go into their home game against Philadelphia on Sunday ranked 31st among the league's 32 teams in total defense. Only 2-11 San Francisco has given up more points - 381 to the Rams' 378.
The Rams (5-8) were booted from postseason contention with the 27-13 loss at Minnesota - a first for Tinoisamoa.
"I think I was spoiled," he said. "You kind of take things for granted when you're on a team like the Rams. You're like, 'All right, it happens every year.' But now, we're not going and it's very different."
That's partly why Tinoisamoa spends so much time after games alone at his locker. He needs to decompress - especially when the defeats mount.
Though he's learned to control his anger, losing still gnaws deeply at Tinoisamoa.
"It does, because you feel like you work so hard and you put so much into it," he said. "Especially when you've got talent and it doesn't reflect it in the stats. I think that's the most disappointing part. . . .
"All we can hope for now is to finish strong."
Re: Losses gnaw at Tinoisamoa
I am with Pisa. I don't take losses well.
-12-18-2005 #3psycho9985 Guest
Re: Losses gnaw at TinoisamoaOriginally Posted by UtterBlitz
-12-18-2005 #4bruce_wannabe Guest
Re: Losses gnaw at Tinoisamoa
the rams losing kills me inside!!!!!