Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stephen Paea can thank No. 1 ‘fam’ for dream come true with Bears

BY ADAM L. JAHNS November 3, 2012 12:04AM

Stephen Paea might have been a grocer in Tonga. Instead, his family’s sacrifices and support have allowed him to become the Bears’ starting nose tackle. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Stephen Paea’s mother, Ana, joyfully recalls one of her favorite memories of her son, the Bears’ starting nose tackle.

‘‘When they were 9 to 10 months old, I would give them bottles of milk,’’ Ana said. ‘‘His [twin] brother would only drink 3 or 4 ounces and start dozing off. Stephen would chug his eight ounces, sit up and throw it like a ball.
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‘‘Then he would look at William sleeping with his bottle and would just pull the bottle from William, lay down and start drinking. William would either fall asleep or get up and cry. Stephen would go on eating and never give it back.

‘‘He was such a big baby.’’

It’s a fond memory before what would become a roller-coaster ride for her family, Ana said.

Paea’s rise to being a key cog in the NFL’s best defense is a unique immigrant success story. He has gone from the island nation of Tonga to a high school in Kansas to Snow College in Utah to Oregon State and finally to the Bears.

Through it all, there has been his unrelenting desire to succeed for his family, who sacrificed and supported him immensely along his own self-described roller-coaster ride to the NFL.

‘‘[My success] wasn’t so much for myself, but for my family,’’ Paea said. ‘‘I’m grateful for everything.’’

The family man

Ana said her family lived comfortably in Tonga, and Stephen could have been a grocer like others, but she wanted a better life for her children. So they went after the American Dream when Paea was a teenager.

‘‘I tell my sons to never forget that we come from a very poor family and that compared to people in America, we are very poor,’’ she said. ‘‘We thank God every day for the blessings that we have.’’

Their path included a four-day bus ride to Kansas from California through the snow. Ana took out loans and worked as a caregiver in California while her sons went to high school in Kansas and Utah and Paea’s father, Ben, handled an importing business in Samoa.

The very close family was literally far apart.

‘‘They had to learn a lot in hard ways,’’ Ana said.

Football, though, brought them together. Where Paea went, his family followed him or financed him. Earnings are always shared among family members.

After failing to attract serious interest from Division I schools, Paea went to Snow College. Despite limited playing time, he caught Oregon State’s interest; it became the only school to offer him a scholarship. He earned an associate’s degree in just one year at Snow, fulfilling a family promise, and moved on to Oregon State, where he became a two-time conference defensive lineman of the year and a legitimate NFL prospect.

Injuries, including tearing his lateral meniscus in his knee at the 2011 Senior Bowl, never slowed him.

Now it’s Paea, whom the Bears took with the 53rd pick in 2011, who’s supporting his family.

‘‘It’s the same thing as football, where I’m part of 11 guys on the defense,’’ said Paea, who has a daughter, Leimana, with his wife and college sweetheart, Susannah. ‘‘I’ve got to do my job. Everybody’s got to do their job. For me to be a part of the family, I do my job, which is supplying for my family, and they do the job of supporting me. It plays both ways. I have nothing to complain about. I love my family to death.”

The rising player

Paea’s goal is to have his entire family present for the Bears’ ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ matchup in San Francisco on Nov. 19.

‘‘My dad hasn’t watched any of my NFL games, and neither has my sister [Ramona],’’ Paea said.

His mother and his three brothers live in California, while his father and sister still work in Samoa. Paea and his mother are working to secure a green card for his father and a working visa for Ramona with Paea’s sponsorship.

When they get here, what they’ll see is a player who fills a critical role for the Bears. Paea has started the last six games and has 10 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack.

‘‘I look at [nose tackle] as a pretty glorious position,’’ Bears defensive line coach Mike Phair said. ‘‘He’s doing a good job with it. He’s a key guy in our front doing the dirty work.’’

Phair said Paea’s quickness stands out. Defensive end Corey Wootton praised his strength and his ability to stay low, which the Bears say isn’t best exemplified by the 49 reps of 225 pounds he benched at the NFL Combine.

‘‘A lot of people don’t play as strong as they are,’’ Wootton said. ‘‘He plays as strong as he is.’’

“The biggest thing,’’ added defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, ‘‘is his humility. He would never boast about himself.’’

To be humble is a family lesson and trait, Paea said.

Of course it is.

‘‘I can’t explain it,’’ Ana said. ‘‘Would you believe it if you came here not even 10 years ago and you see your son playing in the NFL? It’s still a very emotional subject.’’

But a good one.

Te’o A Role Model Worth Watching

By Steve Murray on Nov 06, 2012 in Hot Air, Sports

Manti Te’o has Notre Dame thinking national championship. AP photo
Since 1964, The Word of Life Mural, better known as Touchdown Jesus, has watched over the South Bend campus of Notre Dame University and the world’s third-greatest symbol of Catholicism, Notre Dame Stadium. In the mosaic’s shadow have paraded countless false idols from the Four Horseman to Lou Holtz, but after decades of glory, God and unquestioned marketing genius, the Fighting Irish have a figure truly worthy of special admiration. Not idolization. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

Manti Te’o is not the best linebacker to ever play college football, nor is he the most talented to ever don the golden helmet. He’s not even the best defender in the last handful of seasons – that would be former Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh – nor is he a serious Heisman Trophy candidate, as voters have been programmed to look nowhere but at two offensive positions. But he is an inspiration, more off the field than on, and that’s saying something.

Te’o is a great football player and will be a blessing to whatever team and community he next calls home.

(Sudden sidebar rant: As of this writing, the Lions are 2-4, the Tigers are down 0-2 in the World Series, the Pistons stink and who knows when the Red Wings will get back on the ice? It may still be halftime in America, but it’s still gloomy in the Motor City and a stud linebacker with a deep concern for those less fortunate is sorely needed in an area big on dreams but low on hope. It’s time to be Terrible for Te’o. Self-serving rant concluded.)

It’s his athletic skills that will determine his future financial security, but it is the second part of the pre-rant sentence that makes Te’o sadly more unique.

No, he isn’t the only athlete doing good in his community, but in a nation centered on self-interest his successful efforts to be more than just a great football player are noteworthy. No more so than when he reached out to a family on the very day their 12-year-old daughter, who was a huge Notre Dame fan, died of leukemia.

The emailed letter was a private two-page note to a family he never met. It may have remained a secret if not for a family friend who tipped off Fox Sports columnist Greg Couch, who had earlier written an article about the linebacker’s worthiness of the Heisman. As it was, the family only allowed a small portion of the letter to be published, and Te’o isn’t talking about it except to say he’s just following the examples set down by his parents, Brian and Ottilia.

But that, and his religious faith, are all you need to know.

Te’o has succeeded as a person not because of ancient spiritual teachings nor tough parental love, but because of a moral foundation not based on self.

I’m not suggesting that the betterment of society is found in the dogma of Christianity. I have perhaps too healthy a fear of organized religion, political parties or any organization that tries to control thought or moral behavior with a singular world view. But one can’t deny that his upbringing, both in the Mormon church and out, has shaped Te’o into the person he is.

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg’s seminal work on moral development, while not without its critics, divides moral growth into six stages. The most developed stage, universal ethical principles, says that people at this level believe moral reasoning is based on universal ethical principles, and that a person should act in a moral way because it is right, not because of any legal requirement or popular opinion. It’s definitely not based on self-interest, which Kohlberg puts at stage two, or at the moral level of a child.

As a devout Mormon, Te’o was expected to go to BYU. When he decided not to, many took it as an offense to the church. As Te’o said in a March 2009 MidWeek cover story, “Everybody wanted me to go somewhere. I was being pulled in all directions and I just relied on my parents, the Lord and the Heavenly Father to direct me.”

It’s what Kohlberg means about moral acts not being judged by social contracts. It’s also what makes him unique among the many who believe that with great power comes great opportunity for self-reward.

Morning tipoff: Coverboy Siva

Posted on November 7, 2012 by C. L. Brown

Peyton Siva is on a regional cover of regional Sports Illustrated (out on newsstands today) for their college basketball preview section.

Oddly enough as this team moves forward I think Siva will fade to the background. I don’t expect his play to fall off, quite the opposite. I think he’s bound to be so consistent that his play is taken for granted.

“Peyton’s really, really developed into a great point guard,” coach Rick Pitino said. “Now he’s always pivoting in the lane rather than just leaving his feet and throwing it away. He’s always dribbling it back out and looking for another hole.”

Basically, all the things we saw Siva do in the 2012 Big East Tournament, for which he was Most Outstanding Player, and the run to the Final Four.

The Siva who stumbled through the start of last season? Pitino believes that version of Siva is a distant memory:

“Everything that we put into it for four years has come to the forefront right now, he’s a tremendous point guard. If there’s a better point guard in America than him, I want to see it. And I won’t say it’s been that way the past three years, it hasn’t been. He showed strong glimpses of it in the tournament last year. But he’s really playing great basketball right now.”

Haloti Ngata plays with the band...

Pitoitua taking well to KC & likes Leach hire

SAN DIEGO -- He won’t make anyone forget Buck Buchanan, but Ropati Pitoitua is making a name for himself in Kansas City. “The opportunities I’ve been given, I’m just trying to make the most of them whenever I get a chance,” Pitoitua told Sunday in San Diego following the Chiefs' game with the Chargers.

The former standout Washington State d-lineman has taken advantage of the absence of starting defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who has missed three games this season with injuries. Although Pitoitua isn’t making Chiefs fans forget about Dorsey either, he is making strides and is showing he’s a capable performer when the club is without No. 5 overall of 2008 NFL Draft.

And with his humble nature, Pitoitua is just enjoying the ride.

“It’s been good,” he said of his playing time. “I’m still learning. But I just try to do the best I can out there.”

In seven games with the Chiefs, his first season with the club, Pitoitua already has surpassed the numbers he put up in four years with the New York Jets. And unlike New York, where he never started a game, he has started three with the Chiefs.

Pitoitua has 20 tackles, 14 of them solo this season. He had a career-high six, two for losses, and a pair of sacks in the Chiefs’ 37-20 loss to the Chargers on Sept. 30 in Kansas City. In the 31-13 setback at San Diego this past weekend, Potoitua recorded four tackles.

It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, though. Actually, it’s been a tough season to swallow for Pitoitua. The AFC West cellar-dwelling Chiefs (1-7) have lost their last five games heading into Sunday’s contest at Pittsburgh. And they haven’t led during regulation all season. Kansas City’s lone victory was a 27-24 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.

“It’s been hard obviously with the season and the way it’s been going,” Pitoitua said. “We’re just trying to work every day and trying to get better, trying to fix it. That’s all we can do right now, play one game at a time and try to get better. We’ve got to get better.”

It’s been a slow climb for Pitoitua since his rookie season in 2008, when he signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of WSU. He made the team but barely played in New York and spent the 2010 season on injured reserve with an Achilles injury.

Overall, the 6-8, 315-pounder appeared in 22 games, finishing with 22 tackles, three for losses, and a sack. Most of those came in his final season, when he registered 19 tackles in 14 games.

But he has found new life in Kansas City, signing with the club in May after the Jets released him.

At WSU, the Clover Park High star emerged in 2006, when he recorded 37 tackles -- 16 solo and 7.5 for losses. He also had 2.5 sacks.

In his 12 starts as a senior, he finished with 42 tackles and earned the Leon Bender Award as WSU's top defensive lineman.

Potoitua, 27, a Samoa native, who calls Spanaway home, has cherished memories of playing for the Cougars and former coach Bill Doba.

“It was a great experience with Doba,” he said. “I learned a lot from those guys.”

He also believes Mike Leach is a good fit for WSU.

“Oh yeah, I like what I’m seeing on the field right now,” Pitoitua said. “They’ll get it turned around.”

Manti Te'o were named to the Cpaital One Academic All-District V team

Golic Jr., Te'o named academic all-district
November, 8, 2012
Nov 8
By Matt Fortuna |

Mike Golic Jr. and Manti Te'o were named to the Cpaital One Academic All-District V team Thursday, CoSIDA announced.

To be nominated, players must have a minimum 3.3 GPA, be through with sophomore year, be a starter of key reserve and be nominated by an SID.

Golic and Te'o are now on the national ballot, which will help decide a first- and second-team this month.

Currently enrolled in the graduate studies program, Golic graduated in May from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in film, television and theatre with a 3.429 cumulative GPA. He was selected this year to the Allstate Good Works team for community and classroom leadership, and he will be honored during this year's Sugar Bowl.

Te'o, who holds a 3.324 GPA, is a design major in the College of Arts and Letters and will graduate in December. The National Football Foundation named Te'o a national scholar-athlete earlier this season.

Maualuga has 77 tackles in nine games. He is currently on pace for the first 100-tackle season of his career

Maualuga totaled a team-high 12 tackles (three solo) and one pass defense Week 10 vs. N.Y. Giants. It was the fourth time this season Maualuga has had at least 10 tackles.
 Maualuga has 77 tackles in nine games. He is currently on pace for the first 100-tackle season of his career. Yet, he is only started in less than 10 percent of IDP leagues. Maualuga doesn't get a lot of sacks, interceptions or pass defenses, but he is worthy of at least a mid-level Fantasy start in IDP formats.
(Updated 11/11/12).

Alameda Ta'amu apologizes for incident, his second DUI charge since 2009 99

By Neal Coolong on Nov 9, 6:41a

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

he Steelers rookie was charged with drunken driving, destruction of property and resisting arrest for an alleged incident on the South Side in October. He waived his right to a preliminary trial Thursday. He was arrested but not convicted of DUI in December, 2009.

Making his first public statement since being arrested for drunken driving, aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and fleeing an officer. He also is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DUI and escape, all misdemeanors, in addition to several summary driving offenses, according to the Post-Gazette.

Prosecutors dropped three counts of aggravated assault.

"I'm receiving help and trying to move forward," he said. " 'Sorry' is the only word I can say."

It wasn't the first time Ta'amu was charged with drunken driving. According to the Post-Gazette, he was charged for DUI in December, 2009, but plead guilty to negligent driving.

Ta'amu has the support of the Steelers, whether directly in his desire to get help, or implied, by keeping him on the roster, when they easily could have released him upon the completion of the team-imposed two-game suspension he served in Weeks 7-8. They've kept him on the roster, and there hasn't been any official statement from the team on that decision.

Ta'amu, a fourth-round draft pick out of Washington, hasn't been activated for any game this season, and likely won't be.

Ravens DT Haloti Ngata Says Injury Is Really Limiting Him

Filed Under: afc, afcnorth, injury, nfl, ravens, rumor
Posted By: SteveRobWhatever 2 Days Ago #1

Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata began this season in dominating form, chasing down quarterbacks and tossing aside blockers to tackle running backs.

Since damaging his right shoulder and spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, Ngata hasn't been the same player in recent weeks due to his injuries.

"Now, it's limiting me," Ngata told The Baltimore Sun. "I just can't do what I want to do most of the time."

Ngata was able to record six tackles and a sack against the Dallas Cowboys three games ago despite dealing with the injury, but his impact has declined over the last two games.

He had two tackles in a blowout loss to the Houston Texans and then was shut out against Cleveland as rookie running back Trent Richardson gained 105 yards on the ground.

Ngata said he has no desire to take a week off to recuperate, adding that he doesn't think he'll need surgery to remedy the problems.

"Nah, definitely not," he said. "It's too important to win games. I think it will heal in time. I don't think I'll need surgery. It's just limiting me."

Source: Baltimore Sun