JuJu Smith-Schuster Named Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year; Ka`imi Fairbairn to Receive Kūpono Award for Excellence
Honolulu, HI (January 3, 2019) – The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today that Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has been selected as the 2018 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. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Guard Mike Iupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015, Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota was selected as the recipient in 2016 and Smith-Schuster also received the award in 2017.
The 6 foot 2, 215-pound, Smith-Schuster was born in Long Beach, California and is of Samoan ancestry. He is in his second season out of the University of Southern California. Smith-Schuster finished the season tied for sixth in the NFL with 111 catches, fifth in the NFL with 1,426 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns and had eight 100-yard receiving games.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame also announced that Houston Texans Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn will be honored as the 2018 recipient of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Kūpono Award for Excellence. Fairbairn led the NFL with 37 field goals made and has set the Texans franchise record for the most made field goals in a single season. Last year, University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and University of Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton received the inaugural awards.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate JuJu and Ka`imi on terrific seasons,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “They truly represent the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
The formal presentation of the Awards will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 18, 2019) along with being recognized at the Polynesian Bowl (January 19, 2019) in Oahu, Hawai`i.
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee which includes Coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, past NFL player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, past NFLPA President and Inaugural Inductee Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL player personnel legend Gil Brandt, NFL Network writer and 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. 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. www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.
About the Polynesian Bowl: “Where the world’s top high school football players gather to celebrate culture and play the game they love.” The Polynesian Bowl is held annually during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week. NFL Ambassadors include Marcus Mariota, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Haloti Ngata, Ronnie Stanley, Michael Bennett, Danny Shelton and DeForest Buckner. We are honored to have the support of these outstanding partners… BODYARMOR, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawaiʻi Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaiʻi Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawaiʻi News Now, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Motiv8 Foundation, NIKE, Sheraton Princess Kaʻiulani Hotel, BSN Sports and Riddell. www.PolynesianBowl.com.