For Iupati, tackle is the money position

Mike Iupati is all smiles at practice for the Senior Bowl. (Ben Liebenberg /

MOBILE Ala. — One of the great things about events like the Senior Bowl is that players are more willing to open up and talk freely.

Such was the case with Idaho’s Mike Iupati. The soft-spoken offensive lineman is shy among the media, and could be the type of pro that may never again talk with reporters once he enters the league. But now, at this event, he’s a star, and he has had to make himself available.

And the result has been refreshing. There was a classic moment in which Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who was wrapping up his time on the podium, described Iupati’s “long and flowing locks” and compared the big Somoan to famed male supermodel Fabio.

Iupati, who happened to be in the audience, took the compliments in stride and politely smiled at Schwartz, while touching his hair.

When Iupati then made his way up to the microphone replacing Schwartz, he drew the loudest laughter of the day. Asked if he preferred to play guard or tackle, Iupati sheepishly responded, “Well I guess tackles make more money, so …”

Jason Feller

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