Honolulu, HI (December 29, 2016) – The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today five Finalists for the 2016 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award, presented by Hawaiian Airlines. The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding professional football player of Polynesian Ancestry. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Lineman Mike Iupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015.
The five Finalists for the 2016 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award include OL Mike Iupati (Arizona Cardinals), DT Star Lotulelei (Carolina Panthers), QB Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans), DT Danny Shelton (Cleveland Browns) and OL Larry Warford (Detroit Lions).
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors and Selection Committee, we congratulate each of the finalists on their terrific individual performances this season,” said Jesse Sapolu, Co-Founder and Chairman. “These players are great role models and an inspiration for our youth around the globe.”
The Finalists were chosen by a selection committee 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.
The winner of the 2016 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on January 5. The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 20, 2017) along with being recognized during the Inaugural Polynesian Bowl (January 21, 2017).
Offensive Lineman … 7th Season … Samoan Ancestry … Started 14 games on the season … Cardinals have gained 1,648 rushing yards (15th in NFL) and 19 rushing touchdowns (3rd in NFL) on the year … Cardinals rank 8th in total offense (368.3) and 11th in scoring (24.9 points) per game … Selected as an alternate to the 2017 Pro Bowl … Born May 12, 1987 in American Samoa.
Defensive Tackle … 4th Season … Tongan Ancestry … Started 15 games on the season … 23 tackles on the year (14 solo) … four sacks … one forced fumble … one pass broken up … named Week 8 NFC Defensive Player of the Week … Born December 20, 1989 in Tonga.
Quarterback … 2nd Season … Samoan Ancestry … Started 15 games on the season … Completed 61.2% of pass attempts for 3,426 yards with 26 passing touchdowns … 95.6 passer rating … Rushed for 349 yards with two rushing touchdowns … Selected as an alternate to the 2017 Pro Bowl … Born October 30, 1993 in Honolulu, Hawai`i.
Defensive Tackle … 2nd Season … Samoan Ancestry … Started 15 games on the season … 56 tackles on the year (31 solo) … 1.5 sacks … one tackle for loss … Born August 20, 1993 in Sacramento, California.
Offensive Lineman … 4th Season … Samoan Ancestry … Started 14 games on the season … Lions have gained 5,013 total yards and have scored 322 points (21.5 points per game) on the year … Born June 18, 1991 in San Diego, California.
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. It also serves as a resource for Polynesian football history, provides academic scholarships and supports educational programs for Polynesian youth. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center (O’ahu’s North Shore) and was established in 2013 by Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvasa. Other board members include Troy Polamalu, Vai Sikahema, June Jones and Reno Mahe. For more information, visit www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN BOWL
The Polynesian Bowl will feature the world's elite high school players of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries. Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (TEAM MARIOTA) and Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley (TEAM STANLEY) will serve as team captains. Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Inductees Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson and Olin Kreutz will serve as honorary head coaches. June Jones and Dick Tomey will serve as head coaches. For more information, visit www.PolynesianBowl.com.