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Inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced

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    FILE -In this Nov. 27

Waianae High graduate Kurt Gouveia, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, a Radford High product, and the late Junior Seau are among those named to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, it was announced this morning at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Joining the three are Olin Kreutz and the late Herman Wedemeyer, both of whom played at Saint Louis School; Kevin Mawae and Jack Thompson. The enshrinement ceremony will  be held Jan. 23 at the Hawaii Convention Center as part of Pro Bowl Week. 

Former University of Hawaii football coach Dick Tomey, part of the selection committee, said that the class was chosen out of more than 200 nominees of Polynesian descent who distinguished themselves on and off the football field. All had illustrious playing careers at the NFL, college and high school levels. 

Gouveia, of Hawaiian ancestry, led Waianae High to three consecutive Prep Bowl championships before a winning a national title at Brigham Young. The all-pro linebacker played 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly with Washington, twice winning the Super Bowl with the Redskins.

Kreutz, also of Hawaiian ancestry, was a consensus All-American center at the University of Washington. He played for 14 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Chicago Bears, and was named to the NFL all-decade team for the 2000s.

Mawae, another player of Hawaiian ancestry, was the first Polynesian to serve as president of the NFL Players Association. The LSU sports hall of fame and NFL all-pro center center played 16 seasons in the NFL and also was on the NFL all-decade team for the 2000s.

Seau, a two-time All-American linebacker for USC, played 20 seasons, mostly with the San Diego Chargers. Of Samoan ancestry, he was a 10-time all-pro selection, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner in 1994, and named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 1990s. He died in 2012. 

Thompson, known as the "Throwin’ Samoan during his NCAA record-setting quarterbacking career at Washington State, went on to play six seasons in the NFL. He was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 1979 NFL, third overall, which was highest ever for a player of Polynesian descent.

Wedemeyer, a consensus All-American halfback at St. Mary’s in the 1940s, was the first player of Polynesian descent to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Of Hawaiian ancestry, Wedemeyer played two seasons in the All-America Football Conference — a short-lived pro league that rivaled the NFL.

Niumatalolo, a former UH quarterback, was the first person of Samoan ancestry to be named a collegiate head football coach when hired by Navy in 2007. He also was the first service academy coach to lead his team to the Commander-in-Chief Trophy in his first two seasons as a head coach, doing so with the Midshipmen in 2007 and 2008. 

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