The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame — whose permanent exhibit is located near the front entrance of the Polynesian Cultural Center — has unveiled its Class of 2017, that includes one inductee with particularly strong ties to the Polynesian Cultural Center:
■ Junior Ah You (Samoan): DL, Kahuku High, Arizona State U.; drafted by Patriots in 1972, 13 seasons with Montreal Alouettes; also Chicago Blitz, New Orleans Breakers and the Arizona Outlaws.
■ Riki Ellison (first Māori to play in the NFL): L, USC; San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Raiders
■ Chris Naeole (Hawaiian): OL, U of Colorado Boulder; New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars.
■ Ma‘a Tanuvasa (Samoan): DE, U of Hawaii; LA Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons.
■ And the late John Manumaleuna (Samoan) as a contributor: Founder of Samoan Athletes in Action.
Local boys Ah You and Naeole: Ah You, who along with his family operates Tita’s Grill in the Hukilau Marketplace, grew up in Laie, performed at the old Laie Hukilau and also worked at the PCC in its earliest days.
After Ah You graduated from Kahuku High and left Laie to attend Arizona State on a full-ride football scholarship, he continued to share his Polynesian performing skills by putting on luaus and shows throughout the Intermountain West. After graduating, he went on to become a four-time CFL All-Star and two-time Grey Cup champion. He was also named the Grey Cup MVP in 1974.
|Photo courtesy of Honolulu Star Bulletin|
In addition, Ah You’s jersey, #77, is one of seven retired by the Montreal Alouettes, and he was named one of the CFL’s Top 50 players of the league’s modern era. He is also a member of the CFL Hall of Fame and the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Naeole, who also played football for Kahuku High in the 1970s, grew up in nearby Kaaawa before accepting a full-ride football scholarship to play for the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The Class of 2017 will be honored during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, to be held in January 2017 at the Center — permanent home of the free PFHOF exhibit.
|Photo courtesy of USA Today|
For more information, go to www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.
The 2017 inductees selection process: The PFHOF selection committee chose the Class of 2017 inductees from an initial list of over 200 possible candidates. Several months ago they winnowed this number to 15 player and three contributor finalists, before naming the inductees.
The 2017 selection committee is composed of past head football coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), LaVell Edwards, Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett, NFL player personnel expert Gil Brandt, past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae (Polynesian Football HOF Inaugural Inductee) and Hawai’i sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
“On behalf of the Selection Committee, I congratulate this outstanding Class,” said Dick Tomey, committee chairman. “Their accomplishments on and off the field are truly worthy of this recognition.”
“The Class of 2017 has won five Super Bowls, two Grey Cups and a College Football National Championship,” said Jesse Sapolu, Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Co-Founder and Chairman. “They represent the very best of our Polynesian people.”
The Class of 2017 will be honored during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, to be held on January 21-22, 2017, on Oahu. The Polynesian Pro and College Football Player of Year honorees will be announced later in the year.
Story and images by Mike Foley
|Mike Foley, who has worked off-and-on
at the Polynesian Cultural Center since
1968, has been a full-time freelance
writer and digital media specialist since
2002, and had a long career in marketing
communications and PR before that. He
learned to speak fluent Samoan as a
Mormon missionary before moving to Laie
in 1967 — still does, and he has traveled
extensively over the years throughout
Polynesia and other Pacific islands. Foley
is mostly retired now, but continues to
contribute to various PCC and other media.