5 Football Legends Will be Honored at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame

Meet the inductees on Saturday, Jan. 30.


The 2016 class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will be inducted on Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Here’s a quick look at this year’s honorees: 



Charles Teetai Ane Jr. is regarded as one of the pioneers of football in Hawai‘i. Born in Honolulu in 1931, Ane was a two-way lineman for Punahou. He later played quarterback and both offensive and defensive tackle for the USC Trojans, earning All-Coast honors in the early 1950s. The Detroit Lions selected Ane in the fourth round of the 1954 NFL Draft. He played both right tackle and center for the Lions in his seven-year career. More importantly, the 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound powerhouse was a key performer during the most successful period in the franchise’s history, leading the Lions to two NFL championships. Ane was named to the Pro Bowl in 1956 and 1958. After he retired from the league, Ane returned to the Islands and served as a head coach and assistant coach for several local high school teams. Ane died on May 9, 2007 at the age of 76.

Extra Points: Ane could have been a Dallas Cowboy. After the franchise formed in 1960, they selected Ane in the Expansion Draft. Rather than report to the team, however, Ane chose to retire.



While Rockne Crowningburg Freitas had a storied football career, he arguably made an even bigger impact after his playing days were done. The Kamehameha-Kapālama alumnus played college ball at Oregon State, where he teamed with fellow Hawai‘i import Skippa Diaz for four seasons. In 1967, he was a third-round draft pick of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. The 6-foot-7-inch, 270-pound Freitas anchored the team’s offensive line for 10 seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1972. He became the first player of Native Hawaiian ancestry to earn NFL All-Pro honors. He finished his professional career in 1978 after one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Freitas went on to serve as an administrator at the University of Hawaii for more than 20 years, retiring at the end of 2015 as the university’s West Oahu Chancellor. In 2010, Freitas was instrumental in helping the UH football program gain membership into the Mountain West Conference.

Extra Points: Freitas is part of the first Native Hawaiian father-son duo to be drafted in the NFL. His son Makoa was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2003 NFL Draft. Makoa, who played for Kamehameha-Kapālama and the University of Arizona, played three seasons with the Colts.



A native of Garden Grove, California, Troy Polamalu’s football resume is nearly as long as his famous 32-inch tresses. The hard-hitting Samoan safety played 12 seasons with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, helping the franchise win Super Bowl titles in 2006 and 2009. Polamalu was named to the NFL Pro Bowl team eight times and, in 2010, was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Polamalu played college ball for the USC Trojans, and his very first game was against the University of Hawai‘i. His debut was a memorable one, as he made four tackles and caused a fumble as the Trojans trounced the Rainbow Warriors, 62-7, in both teams’ season opener at Aloha Stadium. He was named a consensus All-American in his senior season at USC.

Extra Points: During the 2011 NFL lockout, Polamalu returned to USC to complete his college education, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. His long, free-flowing hair landed him a TV commercial deal with Head & Shoulders.



University of Hawai‘i football fans don’t have many fond memories of Vai Sikahema. The elusive running back and kick returner tormented the Hawai‘i faithful for four seasons as a member of the BYU Cougars. In 1985, during his senior season, the Tongan native scored on an 80-yard reception and a 29-yard run to lead the Cougars to a convincing 26-6 victory over the Rainbow Warriors. Sikahema was also a major contributor to BYU’s 1984 national championship team. He was drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals in 1986 and made an immediate impact as a returner, earning Pro Bowl spots both in 1986 and 1987. His eight-year NFL career also included short stints with the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Sikahema is the first person of Tongan ancestry to play in the NFL.

Extra Points: In the NFL, Sikahema was known for punching the goalpost after scoring a touchdown.  On July 12, 2008, 15 years after retiring from football, Sikahema knocked out former baseball all-star Jose Canseco in the first round of a charity boxing match.


Contributor Inductee:


Born in Lā‘ie on O‘ahu’s North Shore, Al Lolotai was the first Polynesian to play in American professional football. He played for the Washington Redskins in 1945, then joined the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) for four seasons. (The AAFC was launched as a rival to the NFL. The Dons were the first professional football team to play in Los Angeles.) Lolotai primarily played offensive guard for the Redskins, but he also snared an interception as a defensive player and returned a kick for 15 yards. Lolotai attended Kahuku High School before graduating from ‘Iolani. He played his college ball at Weber Junior College (now Weber State University). He died in 1990.

Extra Points: In 1950, Lolotai began performing as a professional wrestler, changing his name to “Alo Leilani.” He held the NWA Hawai‘i Heavyweight title on numerous occasions. In 1978, he lost a title match to Big Daddy Ritter, who would go on to become the legendary wrestler Junkyard Dog.


Polynesian College Football Player of the Year


Ronnie Stanley was an integral part of Notre Dame’s 10-3 2015 campaign, in which the Fighting Irish flirted with a berth in the College Football Playoffs. The 6-foot-6-inch, 315-pound left tackle is a top-rated prospect in April’s NFL Draft, and is considered a lock to be selected on the first round. (ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper currently has the Baltimore Ravens claiming Stanley with the sixth overall selection.) Stanley, who is of Tongan ancestry, could have turned professional in 2015 but opted to return for his senior season. He has experience both at right tackle (13 starts in 2013) and left tackle (27 starts in 2014 and 2015), and possesses the size, length and athleticism that could translate to a successful NFL career.

Extra Points: Stanley beat out some tough competition to win “Polynesian College Football Player of the Year” honors, including former Punahou standouts DeForest Buckner (Oregon) and Ka‘imi Fairbairn (UCLA).


The Enshrinement Ceremony is on Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Polynesian Cultural Center, purchase tickets here