Congressman Faleomavaega gave a speech yesterday from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to formally congratulate, recognize and commend seven sons of the Asian-Pacific American community who will be playing in Super Bowl Forty this coming Sunday, February 5, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan.
The seven players are: Lofa Tatupu, Itula Mili and Wayne Hunter of the Seattle Seahawks and Troy Polamalu, Shaun Nua, Chris Kemoeatu, Kimo von Oelhoffeen of the Pittsburg Steelers. Among the seven Polynesian players in this Sunday’s Super Bowl game, Kimo von Oelhoffen is Native Hawaiian, Chris Kemoeatu is Tongan and Lofa Tatupu, Itula Mili, Wayne Hunter, Shaun Nua, and Troy Polamalu are all Samoans.
In his speech, Congressman Faleomavaega said, “This is a monumental achievement in the history of our Polynesian people. These young men exemplify for me, the journey of our people, particularly those of us who came to this country from humble beginnings as peoples of small Pacific islands with nothing more but our values, our culture and a love of God and country.” Faleomavaega also expressed his pride in these seven young men and gave special recognition and credit to their parents and extended families for their contributions in molding and shaping these athletes into the fearless players they are today.
“Each of these young men has had to overcome great obstacles to be where he is today. Such a feat reminds me of the wisdom of my great heroes, the non-violent leader Mahatma Gandhi whose insight into the human spirit sums up quite frankly what I believe to be a fundamental truth – ‘Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.’”
Faleomavaega said, “Lofa Tatupu, Itula Mili, Wayne Hunter, Troy Polamalu, Shaun Nua, Chris Kemoeatu, and Kimo von Oelhoffen epitomize the indomitable will of the Polynesian people and this is another manifestation of America which allows its citizens whose roots are from just about every part of the world to be all they can be if given the opportunity. In this instance, seven Polynesians have stepped to the plate to share their God-given talent of playing the sport of football in the National Football League.”
According to Faleomavaega, of the 300 million Americans today, only 30,000 are Tongans and about 200,000 are Samoans some of whom live in his district and many who live in the continental U.S. There are also approximately 400,000 Native Hawaiians nationwide. “Yet,” Faleomavaega said, “from these few in number, the presence of seven Polynesian men in the Super Bowl this Sunday should remind us all as Americans that the values upon which this country was founded are still alive and living – that pure hard work, determination and perseverance continues to be rewarded.”
The build-up to Super Bowl Sunday has seen the players featured prominently in magazines, newspapers and television media across the nation, with particular attention to the ‘Super-Samoans’: Lofa Tatupu and Troy Polamalu in the New York Times, The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.
Nicknamed in the media as the Seahawk’s Trojan horse, and ‘a little man in Seattle’ at 5’11” and 238lbs, 23 year old Lofa Tatupu who wears #51 is undersized for a linebacker but according to coach Mike Holmgren, “Lofa is a linebacker. Was probably born a linebacker.”
Tatupu was selected with the 13th pick in the second round (45th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, the highest pick for a linebacker since Anthony Simmons was taken 15th overall in the 1998 draft. Tatupu is only the second player to be chosen from USC in club history. Lofa is the son of former NFL fullback and special teams great Mosi Tatupu.
Itula Mili wears #88 for the Seattle Seahawks. Mili lettered in football, basketball, and track at Kahuku High School in Laie, Hawaii where he was born 32 years ago. A graduate of Brigham Young University Provo, he stands 6’ 4” and weights 260lbs and, in 2003, set the career touchdown mark by a tight end with a career-high four, giving him 12 for his career, surpassing Minnesota Vikings head coach and former Seahawks tight end, Mike Tice.
“Mili has seen action in all 16 games of the NFL season,” Faleomavaega said. “In his career in the pros, he was chosen with the 11th pick in the sixth round, the 174th overall choice in the 1997 college draft which is an outstanding accomplishment.”
Wayne Hunter is 24 years old and wears #73 for the Seattle Seahawks. At 6’5”, 303lbs, he made his NFL debut on the field-goal unit at Arizona. He was selected with the ninth pick of the third round (73rd overall). He was the 32nd tackle taken by the Seahawks in draft history. Hunter attended Radford High in Honolulu and earned three letters each in football, basketball and track and was an All-American selection by Prep Star. He has a daughter Shaylyn.
Vaunted the “Steel Curtain” defense by the media and the “Tasmanian Devil” by teammates is #43 of the Pittsburg Steelers, 24 year old Troy Polamalu who is currently in his third season. At only 5’10” and 212 lbs, Polamalu has developed into one of the NFL’s top safeties and was one of six Steelers selected to the 2005 Pro Bowl. He was named to the ‘Associated Press’ second-team All-Pro squad for being a ferocious hitter with excellent speed and is easily recognized when playing due to the large mane of curly hair flowing down his helmet and past his shoulders.
At 6’5” weighting in at 280lbs, 24 year old Shaun Nua is a rookie on the practice squad and wears #96 for the Pittsburg Steelers. Born in Pago Pago, American Samoa, he attended Tafuna High School where he was an all-league performer. He is known as an athletic defensive lineman.
Chris Kemoeatu is 23 years old and wears #68 for the Pittsburg Steelers. The 6’3” 344lbs Tongan attended Kahuku High School where he was named Hawaii Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and was a first-team All-State pick. He was the sixth-round draft pick in 2005.
At 6’4” 299lbs, Kimo von Oelhoffen wears #67 for the Pittsburg Steelers and is 35 years old. A native Hawaiian, he hails from Kaunakakai, Hawaii and attended Molokai High School. Kimo has been an anchor on the Steelers defensive line since arriving as an unrestricted free agent from Cincinnati in 2000.
“On behalf of the Asian-Pacific American community living in this great country of ours, once more, it is with great pride that I share with the House and indeed with the entire country the accomplishments of our Polynesian young men in the field of sports, specifically football. Again, whether it be politics, academics, business, the arts, literature, music, the military and its various branches, agriculture, and indeed sports, our Polynesian people continually pioneer, persevere and navigate new paths to achieve the American dream of finding success by sharing our talents, providing for our families and giving something back to our fellow citizens.”
The Congressman concluded his speech by extending his thanks in the Hawaiian, Tongan, and the Samoan languages and wishing victory to the best team on Super Bowl Sunday.