Deuce Lutui lifts his Seahawks practice jersey to bare his abdomen.
I know, I know but don’t avert your eyes just yet.
Asked about his obvious weight loss, he chuckles and slaps his belly a time or two. I’m not going to lie, it’s not quite a Kam Chancellor physique we’re talking about.
But it created nowhere near the flab tsunami, with Jell-O-y aftershocks, one might have suspected. If there’s such a thing, Lutui is a lean 338 pounds.
The two messages of this display: Lutui is a certifiably entertaining character, but he’s also well-prepared and highly motivated to contribute his might to the Seattle offensive line.
Fans of the Seahawks will remember Lutui’s years with the Arizona Cardinals, when he was a convenient villain, with his occasional dubious hits and his baiting of Seahawks defenders, all the while testing the limits of jersey-fabric technology.
Now that he wears a Seahawks uniform, fans will note that he’s an Eagle Scout in behavior, a charitable individual, and among the more engaging guys on the team and in the community.
Cardinal Hyde and Seahawk Jekyll ah, the wonders of perspective.
“I’m a nice guy, a mama’s boy, a sweetheart off the field,” Lutui said. “(On the field) I like to go to my alter ego, you could say.”
Given Lutui’s personality and character, it’s probably unfair that so much of his story is related to his weight, which at times has neared 400 pounds. But his size threatened his career when a deal with the Bengals was nullified after he failed his physical.
Lutui’s old coach at USC, Pete Carroll, brought him to the Seahawks as a free agent in April, and the reunion has been beneficial to both.
“He has such a great spirit,” Carroll said during an early workout. “We looked at opportunities to get him on this club just because of that. His weight is down – I mean, way down.”
Carroll kidded that Lutui showed up at 208 pounds, which meant he would have shed the equivalent of Leon Washington. An overstatement, yes, but impressive enough as it was.
The mechanism? He’d gone vegan.
“It was true, I did get into (a vegan diet),” he said. “It helped me keep off a lot of weight. Now I’m into chicken and fish and staying away from red meat. I’ve adapted to the vegan concept and mixed my cultural identity and the vegan together.”
Thirteen pounds at birth, Lutui said he was raised on a diet heavy in lu pulu, a Tongan staple of taro leaves, corned beef and coconut milk.
“I don’t want to say I’ve lost any identity or anything, but I made a commitment to myself and my family,” he said. “It’s helped bless my life. It’s been an issue in the past, but I have my eyes forward and I’m very optimistic with this team and with reuniting with Coach Carroll.”
For a guy who admits a passion for “stirring the pot” on the field, Lutui easily slips into philosophy and spiritualism away from competition.
When asked about his challenge in Seattle – to reshape himself and extend his career – he talks about how happy he is in his new environment, and how much conditioning coaches Chris Carlisle and Jamie Yanchar have helped him push himself “ to see if there’s any limits to the soul.”
“I look at things so differently,” he said. “I’m playing at a weight that’s mine; I’m weighing in for myself, not for others.”
The roots of Lutui’s personal philosophy go back to age 6, when a car wreck took the life of a baby sister, put his father and brother in comas, and created life-long physical challenges for his mother. As a teenager, Lutui not only faced the usual demands of school and sports, but also the responsibility of working to help his family.
“The injuries had a lasting effect on my family,” he said. “My dad said, we can either dwell on it as a tragedy or you can use it as an experience to help you live your life. I’ve lived a very rich live, not in possession, but in being spiritually fed and loving. I think it’s one of the main reasons I’m here today.”
His father, whom he called “the patriarch and pioneer of our family,” died three years ago after a long fight with diabetes and seizures related to the accident. His mother, he said, “was badly injured and it’s still painful for her to this day – physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Given the depth of this context, it’s easy to understand why Lutui is so grateful for his career, and the opportunity to keep it alive with the Seahawks.
“Yes,” he said. “This is a promising time for Deuce Lutui.”firstname.lastname@example.org