Jesse Sapolu spoke at practice yesterday

HA Note: “Moments after San Francisco defeated Chicago, 28-3, in the 1988 NFC Championship game, 49er center Jesse Sapolu approached Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and said: “This is payback for all of those years.” Sapolu added: “He started laughing.” The true measure of a Hawai’i football player is his feelings toward longtime rival Brigham Young. Sapolu’s teams never beat BYU (twice led by McMahon) in his four seasons as UH center.”

About his feelings towards BYU, Jesse Sapolu said:
“BYU will always be my rival.” (HA)

HA Note: “Sapolu recalled the BYU quarterbacks his teams faced were Marc Wilson, McMahon and Steve Young — all record setters. Young is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Joking about how mature the BYU players were, Sapolu said:
“They were four years older than us when we played. I played with (BYU graduate) Bart Oates with the 49ers, and he was a good four years older than me. We were seniors together.” (HA)

About having Sapolu talking to them about the importance of team unity, Aaron Kia said:
“I look up to the man. He was a beast when he played.” (HA)

About how Sapolu’s message had special meaning for the members of the OL, Kia said:
“He was coming from the offensive linemen’s perspective. I liked when he told us that the (49er) linemen only needed a head nod (to communicate calls). You want to get to that level where it’s automatic, no static.” (HA)

About how his parents grew up in Redwood City, where the 49ers used to hold training camp, John Estes said:
“We were all 49er fans, all the way through my grandparents. We knew everything about them. It was really cool to see him out here.” (HA)

Pointing to the small grass hill bordering UH’s practice field, Sapolu said:
“We used to run up these hills. Back then, it was dirt. Hard dirt. Now everything is so nice and manicured.” (HA)

About how he still considers himself a “shy kid from Kalihi”, Sapolu said:
“When I think back, it’s, how did I get here? There were some twists and turns. It it weren’t for certain people who helped me, I could have gone the wrong way.” (HA)

HA Note: “He said he received guidance from Al Espinda, his head football coach at Farrington High, and Gordon Miyashiro, the offensive line coach.”

Sapolu remembers Miyashiro:
“not screaming at me, but talking to me. ‘These are your possibilities if you straighten up and believe in yourself and go to class and do the right things.’ It was one of the first times I played for a coach who was really positive with me.” (HA)

HA Note: “Sapolu has two sons playing football. London Sapolu is at Orange Coast Community College. Roman Sapolu is at Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.”

About how both sons received offers from the Warriors and he hopes one or both of them plays for UH, Sapolu said:
“I would like one or both of my sons to come here. It would be nice to hear that name here again. It’s been a while. I would be proud to see one of my sons be a Warrior. That would be the closest way for them to feel what I felt when I played here. Times are different, but we can still talk about things that are the same, like the dorms.” (HA)

About how the facilities at UH are better now than when he played, Sapolu said:
“I’m a little jealous. The facilities are much nicer.” (HSB)

About having Sapolu talk to the team during a break about halfway through yesterday’s practice, Mac said:
“Our tradition is built by the great players we’ve had here at Hawaii. … He’s a legend. He’s somebody who we’re really proud of at the University of Hawaii, who made it not only in sports but in life, and he’s a great example to this football team.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Sapolu played for UH from 1979 to ’82 and went on to a 15-year career with the 49ers, a mainstay at center during San Francisco’s run of championships in the 1980s and ’90s. He returned to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl three times and was inducted into the UH Circle of Honor in 2000.”

About how it was great to have Sapolu talk with their team, John Estes said:
“It’s just cool to see him out here. I tried to soak up what he said and listen to him. He’s been there and played at the highest level. Four-time Super Bowl champion — not that many people can say that.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Sapolu was among the offensive linemen from those early ’80s teams who went on to distinguished careers after UH. Among those he played with were UH athletic director Jim Donovan and Kauai mayor Bernard Carvalho. Jim Mills was recently elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Sapolu lives in Orange County, but still works for the 49ers as an alumni coordinator. He hopes he’ll be able to watch one of his sons play at UH someday. London Sapolu is a defensive tackle at Orange Coast College. Roman Sapolu is a junior center at Edison High School, and recently committed to Oregon State, though Hawaii has offered him a scholarship as well.”

About how schools offer scholarships much earlier than when he played, Sapolu said:
“They didn’t offer me anything until my senior year and then they all came at one time, but things are different now.” (HSB)


One Response to “Jesse Sapolu spoke at practice yesterday”

  1. tony Says:

    Can anyone tell me how to get in touch with Jesse Sapolu? My son-in-law was a star football player in American Samoa and was offered scholarships by many major universities, including Penn State, Utah, Hawaii, Arizona, Washington, and many others. He played two years at Utah for Urban Meyer and was the cream of Meyer’s 2004 recruiting crop. He transferred to a 1AA school for family reasons, which had a very negative impact on his HFL draft stock. He has tried out for the Redskins, who really liked him, but were full on the offensive line. I am hoping Jesse can help my son-in-law get a tryout on the West Coast, where he will be in August. Please let me know as soon as you can. I can be reached at Mahalo

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