HONOLULU – The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today that Tennessee Titans Quarterback, Marcus Mariota has been selected as the 2016 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.
The 6-foot 4, 220-pound, Mariota was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i and is of Samoan ancestry. He is in his second NFL season out of the University of Oregon, where he became the first player of Polynesian ancestry to win the Heisman trophy. That same year, he was named the inaugural Polynesian College Football Player of the Year by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
This year, Mariota helped lead the Tennessee Titans to a 9-7 regular season record. He completed 276-of-451 passes for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, and a 95.6 passer rating, while also rushing for 349 yards and two touchdowns. Mariota earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 10 after passing for 295 yards and four touchdowns in a Tennessee Titans victory over the Green Bay Packers. He was also named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month in November and an alternate to the Pro Bowl.
"On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Marcus on a fantastic season," said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. "He is a tremendous role model and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere."
The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 20, 2017) along with being recognized during the Inaugural Polynesian Bowl (January 21, 2017) in Oahu, Hawai`i.
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame
Selection Committee members, composed of past head football coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett, NFL player personnel expert Gil Brandt, past NFLPA president and Inaugural Inductee Kevin Mawae and Hawai'i sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
Other Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award Finalists included OL Mike Iupati (Arizona Cardinals), DT Star Lotulelei (Carolina Panthers), DT Danny Shelton (Cleveland Browns) and OL Larry Warford (Detroit Lions).
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia's greatest players, coaches and contributors. It also serves as a resource for Polynesian football history, provides academic scholarships and supports educational programs for Polynesian youth. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center (O'ahu's North Shore) 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. For more information, visit www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN BOWL
The Polynesian Bowl will feature the world's elite high school players of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries. Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (TEAM MARIOTA) and Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley (TEAM STANLEY) will serve as team captains. Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Inductees Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson and Olin Kreutz will serve as honorary head coaches. June Jones and Dick Tomey will serve as head coaches. For more information, visit www.PolynesianBowl.com.
TitansOnline.com looks back at Marcus Mariota's second NFL season in 2016. (AP Photos)