In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage month, the NFL hosted a roundtable discussion with former Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu and former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu, Steelers Depot reports. Both Polamalu and Sapolu are of Samoan heritage, and the discussion highlighted values of “faith, family and culture” in the Polynesian culture.
Hosted by Steve Wyche, Polamalu and Sapolu were chosen due to their influence in NFL History; Polamalu is in the NFL Hall of Fame and Sapolu is a four-time Super Bowl Champion. This broadcast of AAPI NFL players is part of the NFL’s effort to promote diversity from within their organization, according to their website.
In the discussion, Polamalu discussed his pride in representing Samoan athletes.
“We represent something that is much bigger than ourselves … because the culture is almost like one gigantic family,” Polamalu said, according to Steelers Depot. “I think not only representing that … but all the great Polynesian, Samoan athletes, it’s a big blessing for me to be part of that lineage and carry on the heritage of what our culture represents through the NFL.”
Polamalu also discussed how football has become embraced in “Islander culture.” This relationship between football and Samoa is made apparent by Rob Ruck, a University of Pittsburgh history professor who wrote a book on this relationship, 90.5 WESA reports.
“I think that Samoans have grasped sport as a way to tell their story to the world,” Ruck said in an interview with 90.5 WESA. “That name on the back of your jerseys is not just your name, it is your extended family, the hundreds of Polamalus and Pomeles and Seaus and Tuiasosopos. There’s a lot of pressure on [the players], and I think that’s why they acquit themselves so well and in such a disciplined manner on the playing field.”
Sapolu, meanwhile, was credited for creating the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
“Somebody had to step up and try to get it started,” Sapolu said during the roundtable. “The great thing about the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame is that we’re reaching back and honoring those who came and continue to support our present stars.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story, or making a financial contribution.