HONOLULU(HawaiiNewsNow) - Seven of Hawai'i's greatest football stars have been selected by the National Football League (NFL) and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA) as the inaugural class of the "Hawai'i NFL Greats" which honors former NFL players with ties to Hawai'i for their achievements both on and off the field.
These seven honorees will be recognized at several events during 2013 Pro Bowl Week, including an on-field ceremony prior to the game. The 2013 Pro Bowl will be televised live on Sunday, January 27 on NBC at 2:00 PM HST.
"It is our privilege to honor these athletes and role models whose superior performance on the field and positive influence throughout the community have inspired generations in Hawai'i and abroad," said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. "These men have demonstrated that through hard-work and dedication, anything is possible. They have given our youth something to aspire to."
The 2013 "Hawai'i NFL Greats" are:
• Charlie Ane: A graduate of Punahou School, Ane was part of the Detroit Lions world championship team in 1953 and 1957. He was selected to the NFL All-Pro Team three times (1956, '57, '58) and became a part of the All-Time Detroit Lions Team in 1960. After retiring from the NFL, Ane returned to the Hawaiian Islands and coached at Punahou, Kaimuki, Damien and Radford schools, and St. Anthony's on Maui.
• Blane Gaison: At Kamehameha Schools, Gaison was an All-State quarterback who led his team to high school football state titles in 1974 and 1975 and went on to play at the University of Hawai'i (UH). After four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons from 1981-1984, Gaison returned to Hawai'i where he served as the athletic director at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, receiving national awards for his contributions to the program. He recently moved to Maui to become the new athletic administrator at Maui Kamehameha High School.
• Leo Goeas: Kamehameha Schools and UH graduate Goeas played for the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and St. Louis Rams before retiring with the Baltimore Ravens in 1997. In 2003, he formed On The Line, Inc., representing NFL players, simultaneously becoming a certified contract advisor for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which works toward assuring proper recognition and representation of the players' interests.
• Arnold Morgado: A graduate of Punahou School and UH, Morgado played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1977-1980. He served as the chairman of the Honolulu City Council, a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch and recently returned to his alma mater to coach football.
• Jim Nicholson: St. Louis graduate Nicholson was drafted by the St. Louis Rams then sent to the Kansas City Chiefs where he played for six years. After being transferred to San Diego then San Francisco, where he played in one game the year they won the Super Bowl, Nicholson retired from the NFL in 1981 to attend law school. He is now the head of the state Labor Relations Board.
• Herman Wedemeyer: St. Louis High School graduate, Wedemeyer was Hawai'i's first consensus All-American football player. He was also a finalist in the 1945 Heisman Trophy and part of the National College Football Hall of Fame. After briefly playing professional football with the All-American Football Conference (AAFC) Los Angeles Dons, Wedemeyer returned to Hawai'i and became involved in politics.
• Wally Yonamine: An accomplished two-sport athlete, Yonamine was born and raised in Hawai'i and played one season with the San Francisco 49ers during their second season in the AAFC in 1947. He went on to accomplish a notable baseball career as the first American to play professional baseball in Japan.
"The NFL has recruited many talented athletes from the Hawaiian Islands since the start of the league and we are proud to honor seven of them in the inaugural 2013 'Hawai'i NFL Greats,'" said Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations. "We look forward to recognizing them on their home turf during the 2013 Pro Bowl Week festivities."
For the third consecutive year, the NFL Pro Bowl will return to the Aloha Stadium, which has hosted the game for more than 30 years. Events leading up to the game include football and cheer clinics, non-profit community events, the NFL-HTA Football Combine featuring Japanese and local football players, Eat the Street Pro Bowl Style, Pro Bowl 'Ohana Day, Pro Bowl All-Star Block Party and the Official Pro Bowl Tailgate Party. In 2012, the Pro Bowl contributed $25.3 million to the state's economy and reached an audience of 12.5 million viewers. In preparation for the 2013 Pro Bowl, the NFL and the HTA formed a Pro Bowl Committee of business and community leaders in Hawai'i to enhance attendance and experiences for residents, visitors, the players and their families throughout the week from Monday, Jan. 21 through Sun. Jan. 27, 2013.
Established in 1998, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, the state's tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai'i that integrates the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is our state's leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future. For more information on the HTA, click HERE!