SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An NFL player is working as an intern at California Capitol, learning to tackle the state legislatures.
Compared to football, this is a whole different ballgame. but inside this state Senate office, Christian Tupou is turning into a two-sport star.
Of all the heavy-hitters that walk into the Capitol, no one may play the role better than Tupou, a 6-2, 300-pound NFL defensive lineman and Capitol intern.
“The basic principle is that there’s life after football. That’s what I’ve learned so far,” he said.
State Sen. Jim Nielsen’s been showing Tupou the full-contact sport of politics
“Well everybody says I’ve got my bodyguard with me, quite frankly I needed him years ago when I was chairman of the board of prison terms more than I need him now,” he said.
His incredible size is matched by his strength of character. Tupou says his football background benefits him in the Capitol building.
“You gotta be competitive, you’re in the service of families, of children all these bills, the legislative process,” he said. “This directly affects all of us here living, in California.”
Tupou grew up in North Sacramento and played football at Grant High School before going to USC where he was named a captain. He was highlighted in a 60 Minutes report about then-head coach Pete Carroll as they had an encounter.
“I could have been mad at Coach Carroll and resented him my whole life, but he taught me a lesson that day; I need to control myself, and I have power to do that,” he said.
It’s a powerful lesson, watching a man playing out his NFL dream, yet already striving for a career after football.
In a week, he’ll be starting training camp with the Cleveland Browns. It’s his fourth team since turning pro.