Former Seattle Seahawks linebacker and three-time Pro Bowl player Lofa Tatupu knows about adversity. Whether slogging through game day with multiple injuries or starting a CBD business in an increasingly saturated market, mental acumen, discipline, and determination have been his greatest ally.
“It’s the chip on the shoulder,” Tatupu said in a recent Cannabis Tech Talks episode.
“You literally either build or break. I was always great at blocking out the noise or even just turning that into motivation to prove people wrong.”
Proving people wrong is something he has done successfully now in the cutthroat world of professional football and business. And the way empires rise and fall in the exciting, burgeoning, yet still immature cannabis industry, it’s hard to accurately say whether pro football or starting a cannabis brand takes more mental fortitude.
That may be why the toughest athletes make the best business owners in the crowded cannabis space — both fields are filled with fierce competition.
Building a Legacy Takes Teamwork
Tatupu was one of the NFL’s more underrated, yet effective, linebackers in the mid-2000s. Tatupu earned three straight Pro Bowl nods from 2005-2007 and even earned an All-Pro selection in 2007.
With his exceptional eye for the ball in pass coverage, he was able to pick off passes, force fumbles, and tackle with almost clairvoyant foresight.
His exploits helped propel the Seahawks to a regular playoff team, and although he left in 2010, many analysts would argue he, along with his teammates from the era, laid the groundwork that would ultimately lead to the organization’s first Super Bowl win in 2014.
But according to Tatupu, he was not the biggest or the fastest man on the team. He attributes his career success to mental strength, passion for the game, and the team around him.
“You have to really love what you’re doing,” he said of his NFL career. “The rumblings of ‘he’s not good enough’ go away as you become somewhat successful, so what drives you then is ‘how much do I love the sport?’ It’s about how much I love my brothers that I played ball with — and being a part of something bigger than myself.”
So Does Building a Brand
After discovering CBD for himself, Tatupu began the journey of bringing it to the masses by starting his own cultivation facility. Several years later, in 2019, he co-founded ZoneIn, a CBD brand that offers roll-ons, tinctures, capsules, and powders.
ZoneIn sets itself apart from similar brands by combining immune and energy-boosting ingredients with full-spectrum CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids. The result is a supplement ideal for athletes.
He brought the same philosophy of teamwork and collaboration that aided in his success with the Seahawks to his new company.
Bringing former teammates, fellow professional athletes, and a powerhouse team of scientific advisors and renowned business executives into the fold ensured he once again had a team he could trust to propel him and the brand to the next level.
“Team is everything,” Tatupu. said. “No one does anything great on their own. The sooner you buy into that philosophy of strength in numbers, the sooner you will see success.”
His passion for the game naturally translated to a passion for the hemp plant and CBD products when he found relief — as many current and former players have — through the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant.
The landscape of recovery supplements and medications in professional sports has changed drastically in the last decade. NFL players used to be tested for cannabis and suspended for using the plant. Now, cannabis supplements are one of the first bottles stored in the gym bag.
It’s a far cry from the shots, anti-inflammatories, and opioids pushed by doctors and physiotherapists with reckless abandon during Tatupu’s playing years.
“It’s not even close to a cure for what you’re going through and it’s only going to make things worse as a matter of fact,” Tatupu stated regarding opioid treatment. “We have the hard data on that.”
And it’s not just the NFL making a fundamental switch in the way it treats injuries.
Major League Baseball has become the first of the four major U.S. professional sports leagues to get into the CBD game.
U.S. baseball’s top league recently announced it has formed a sponsorship agreement with Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc., a CBD cultivator and retailer.
MLB paved the way for the agreement in June when it officially allowed clubs to score sponsorships with CBD companies certified for sport by NSF, an organization that establishes standards for products used by athletes.
I Get Knocked Down…
During his six-year NFL career, Tatupu suffered at least 15 concussions and underwent eight surgeries.
“When I walked away from the game, well, I crawled away from the game,” he admitted. “I mean, I literally got carried off the field.”
It wasn’t until after his last game in the NFL that Tatupu found CBD and began using it for chronic pain management.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “I wish I had CBD back then. I would have retired a couple of years ago rather than 10 years ago.
“I still had some prime years left in me. That’s what I hope to give back or show players that are coming towards the end of their career in several sports, not just the NFL. We are meant to move … Why are we going to stop?”
But I Get Up Again
Along with being an effective treatment for physical ailments, Tatupu claims CBD has alleviated mental symptoms he attributes to his multiple surgeries and concussions.
“It was the mental and the emotional [difficulties] that come with it,” he said. “The torture and the trauma that set in from all those injuries. And I think that’s the power of the plant and why I’m such an advocate for it.”
“Within days of taking it, noticeable changes had occurred,” he states on ZoneIn’s website. “I gained mental clarity, moved without pain, and slept better than I had in years. My mind and body were back in sync.
“That’s why we started ZoneIn. I want everyone to feel what I experience daily.”
Images courtesy ZoneIn CBD.
This article first appeared in Volume 4 Issue 3 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Get the next issue on us.