Friday, June 19, 2009

Great Sports Name Hall of Fame Nominee - Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala

If you're going to say it, say it right. It's pronounced "Fu - Ah - Mah - Two Mah - Ah - Fall - Ah." He doesn't like when people pronounce it wrong, as it's pretty easy to make his Polynesian name translate into dirty things.

Anyways, the one they call "Fu" was a bruiser from the running back position, which fit the Steelers mold perfectly and made him a fan favorite. He was never great as he never had amazing hands or speed and always played second (or third) fiddle to Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker, but he made his mark nonetheless. His career highlight is probably icing a 2002 wild card playoff game versus the Browns with a decisive rushing touchdown.

However, after those playoffs, Ma'afala was cut by the Steelers and signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Year one with the Jaguars was okay, year two Ma'afala played only seven games, and there was no year 3 as he was cut and subsequently retired with lifetime stats of 227 carries for 964 yards and 8 touchdowns (as well as 351 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns).

Since retiring, Ma'afala has lived a busy life back in Hawaii. Activities of his include work with Army Youth Sports, where he coaches the children of military personnel. Fu also holds an annual sports clinic in the area and has worked as a security guard and as a high school football coach. As great as it was to watch him power through linebackers in the NFL, it seems that Fu is a big fan of giving back now that he's retired, and more power to him for that. Instead, Fu has ensured that he'll be remembered as more than a quirky name with a decent career (at least outside of this site).

So I present, for your Great Sports Name Hall of Fame election consideration, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala.

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