That also was about the time that Pupu'a decided to retire and pursue his other dream -- to be an opera singer, an occupation where he sings about tragedy.
"A voice inside of me said, 'Move forward, move on and go into singing.' " said the Weber State product, who was profiled Wednesday on "NFL AM" as the third part of a series looking at successful retired players titled "Second Act." "I packed my two bags, got on the train and went to New York. I started knocking on doors to become an opera singer."
Pupu'a graduated two years ago from The Julliard School's music program as a tenor.
"Being a tenor is a huge responsibility," Pupu'a said. "Us tenors, we sing in a place that we don't speak."
Like any other profession, Pupu'a said you have to pay your dues to be a successful opera singer. Not everyone walks in and becomes the next Luciano Pavarotti.
"I hear a lot of people say, 'Tenors -- cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching,' " he laughed. "Hopefully, I'll get there."