Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Al Lolotai Led the Way

Every football season, I wish that Baylor had more Polynesians on the field. I love seeing my Poly classmates and distant relatives succeed in sports and it would be amazing to see them on my own team. Polys have always excelled in physical activities (including Makahiki games) and football is one of our main shining sports. As I was researching our greatest players in history, Al Lolotai appeared as the first Polynesian to play in the NFL. I'm disappointed in myself for not knowing this crucial piece of history, so I don't want his legacy to disappear. Al Lolotai was a pioneer for future Polynesian football players in the pros. He went to both Kahuku and ʻIolani before playing at Weber Junior College. In 1945, Lolotai was drafted by the Washington Redskins as an OG where he was the first Samoan NFL player. Lolotai switched to the Los Angeles Dons a year later for which he played four years. After his five year stint in the NFL, Lolotai became a pro wrestler.

Although he only spent a few years in the NFL, Lolotai championed the way for a future generation of Poly football players. If it weren't for Lolotai's hard work and dedication, the likes of Jesse Sapolu, Troy Polamalu, Kurt Goveia, Junior Seau and Marcus Mariota wouldn't have the opportunity to succeed in the pros. There are now over 60 Polynesians in the NFL and the number continues to grow each year. Polys' natural strength, speed and size makes them some of the best athletes in the league. Thank you uncle Al for leading the way for the rest of us. Hopefully Baylor will add more Polynesians on the field in the next few years...

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