From the NFL to the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, football runs deep in the islands and within those of Polynesian descent. Wednesday, seven pioneers were inducted into the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
From an initial group of 200 candidates, members of the selection committee narrowed it down to seven members. Among them; LB, Kurt Gouveia (Hawaiian ancestry); C, Olin Kreutz (Hawaiian ancestry); C, Kevin Mawae (Hawaiian ancestry); LB, Tiaina "Junior" Seau (Samoan ancestry); QB, Jack Thompson (Samoan ancestry); HB, Herman Wedemeyer (Hawaiian ancestry), and Coach, Ken Niumatalolo (Samoan ancestry).
Co-founder and former University of Hawaii and San Francisco 49er offensive lineman, Jesse Sapolu, raved about the inaugural class and says the moment was way passed due.
"As you can see, you're probably surprised at some of the names not there. I have my own opinion on one of the guys that didn't make it this year, but it just gives you an idea of how tough it is," said Sapolu. "If we don't start it now some of the young kids like Troy Polamalu and Haloti Ngata that are coming out, there are guys that are sitting right now that deserve to go in before some of these kids come out of the league."
Inductees will be honored on January 23, 1014 at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame's inaugural enshrinement ceremony to be held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.
Co-founder Ma'a Tanuvasa says each members highschool will receive a donation for a college scholarship to be given to a male or female athlete of Polynesian decent.
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