Hawaii NFL greats honored at Washington Place

Jesse Sapolu

A who’s who of former Hawaii NFL greats were honored on Friday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Think about it… Jesse Sapolu, of San Francisco 49er fame in the 80s, to the right of former Chicago Bear Olin Kreutz.

“Absolutely, and I joked with Olin I would gladly move to guard if you want me to. It’s ironic that I am being inducted with a couple of offensive lineman,” Sapolu said.

And think about big Chris Naeole, who starred in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other side of that line.

“Oh, definitely. We got Olin, Jesse, Uncle Rockne Freitas, Jim Nicholson, Leo Goeas. We got a whole lineup over here for you right now,” Naeole said.

They’re big time athletes who achieved a great deal on the field and conduct themselves honorably off it, thrilled at receiving this award.

“The men that raised me and developed my personality and attitude on how to carry myself. Even when I walked on the field as a high-profile National Football League level. It’s nice to come back home and I am very honored,” Sapolu said.

“It’s a great honor. All the people who put this on. And just being an ambassador for Hawaii. Support the Pro Bowl here this week and all the things that go along with it. It’s just a truly great honor,” Naeole said.

The others joining Naeole, Sapolu, and Kreutz include Rockne Freitas, who played for the Detroit Lions, and Rich Miano who played with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. They’re all earning NFL great awards given out by the NFL and Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“It’s amazing per capita the talent that comes out of these islands and goes to the NFL is incredible,” said Mike Story with the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

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