HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Joe Salave’a, Dan Saleaumua, Lofa Tatupu and Marques Tuiasosopo left their respective marks on the football field during their playing days, but now their names and legacies will be enshrined for generations to come.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame hosted its annual celebration dinner tonight at the Sheraton Waikiki, celebrating both Polynesia’s rich culture and football history.
“It really is just a reflection of the hours and the commitment that it took to arrive to this point,” said the newly inducted Joe Salave’a. “I'm just honored that the selection committee had deemed my body of work worthy of this honor.”
While he’s still spending his Sundays on the football field in the NFL, Tennessee Titans quarterback and Hawaii native Marcus Mariota has already made a significant impact in the way Polynesian football players are viewed and recruited across the country, particularly from the Hawaiian islands.
Watching both the sport and Polynesian culture grow together with the Polynesian Bowl has been surreal for the former Saint Louis star.
"It’s special because you see it continue to grow and you see some of the light in these kids eyes and that's all you really wanted to do was provide just an opportunity for them to see they can achieve their dreams and they can do what we've done and hopefully more,” he said.
Also honored on the night was Pittsburgh Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Pro Football Player of the Year while Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the Hall’s College Player of the Year.
Sharing the honors as Co-High School Players of the Year were Taulia Tagovailoa and Puka Nacua, who both accepted their awards earlier this evening.
The Polynesian Bowl kicks off tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. HT and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.