Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Polynesian Football Hall of Fame (class 2)

[10/8/14] Players who combined for ten Pro Bowl appearances and eight Super Bowl championships comprise the next class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which was announced today at a news conference at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

Luther Elliss, Russ Francis, Jesse Sapolu, Ray Schoenke, Mosi Tatupu and Mark Tuinei will be inducted in January.  [Russ Francis is polynesian?]

The six were selected from a finalist list of 25 pared down by a selection committee chaired by former University of Hawaii coach Dick Tomey.

They join the initial class that included Kurt Gouveia, Olin Kreutz, Kevin Mawae, Junior Seau, Jack Thompson, Ken Niumatalolo and Herman Wedemeyer.

Inductees will be honored at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, Jan. 23-24 on Oahu. Go to www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org for more information.

*** [1/28/15]

Like many of us, Linnea Garcia-Tatupu is conflicted about football.

The game allowed the men in her life to fulfill their dreams, to achieve at the highest level of a profession, starring in the NFL. Her husband, Mosi, made it to the Pro Bowl. Her son, Lofa, did so twice. They both won national championships at USC and both went to the Super Bowl as pros.

Last weekend, Mosi was enshrined in the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

But, now, it is becoming clearer that the game also took Mosi's life at age 54. When Linnea and I talked in 2010, there was still no official cause of death for Mosi, days after his passing. But we both strongly suspected concussions from playing football at least contributed to it.

On Saturday, she told me the cause of death is now officially listed as a heart attack. But a part of Mosi's brain was studied by a neurologist, who concluded chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) led to his decline in health and eventual death. CTE is the same disorder caused by concussions that has led to deaths of former football players, including Junior Seau and John Wilbur.

Linnea said Saturday that she is grateful every day that Lofa, 32, no longer plays football. She said she hopes her grandchildren never take up the game.

Despite conflicting emotions, she honored Mosi's career with grace and dignity in a speech Saturday. The most poignant moment was when she addressed the young, current players in the crowd specifically and told them to "have safe careers."

"It was very hard for me this weekend. I know Mosi would have been very honored and it is not my intention to tarnish his career," she said. "I don't know how this is going to play out because this is so raw. I'm just no longer going to sit here being quiet about something I know is silently killing people. I knew if Mosi thought there was something he could do to ease people's pain, he'd want it done."

She is "extremely grateful" that former Hula Bowl executive director Lenny Klompus plans to resurrect the Mosi Tatupu Award, which was given to college football's top special teams player from 1997 to 2006.

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