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Honolulu, HI (January 21, 2021) – The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today that Indianapolis Colts Defensive Lineman, DeForest Buckner has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the 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. Seattle Seahawks OG Mike Iupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015, Las Vegas Raiders QB Marcus Mariota in 2016, Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2017 & 2018, and Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley in 2019.

The 6-foot-7, 295-pound Buckner is of Samoan descent. He is in his fifth year out of the University of Oregon. This season, DeForest played in 15 games and compiled 58 tackles (37 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Among NFL defensive tackles, he ranked in the top-five in tackles (fourth), solo tackles (second), tackles for loss (third), sacks (second) and forced fumbles (third). Buckner’s 9.5 sacks set the Colts franchise record for the most by a defensive tackle in a single season. He was named a first team All-Pro selection.

“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate DeForest on a historic year,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu.  “He is a tremendous role model and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere.”

The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the 2022 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 21, 2022), along with being recognized during the 2022 Polynesian Bowl (January 22, 2022).

 The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson (Chairman), Coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, Inaugural Inductee and past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.

About the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame: The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. Over $250,000 in college scholarships have been awarded to Polynesian high school students. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center 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.

About the Polynesian Bowl: The Polynesian Bowl is held annually during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week and is televised LIVE on CBS Sports Network. Major sponsors include adidas, BodyArmor, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawai’i Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawai’i News Now, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Riddell.