Kyle Goon: Edwin Mulitalo going out on a limb in Samoa
Imagine: You've retired from a long and successful NFL career after making millions. You have a wife, four children and a lot of spare time.
What do you do with your money and your influence? Right uproot yourself from the U.S. to move to Western Samoa to help start its first American football program.
No? That wouldn't be your first choice? Well it's a no-brainer for Edwin Mulitalo, the offensive guard who once won a Super Bowl with the Ravens. And he knows already that he's in for a challenge.
"This isn't like American Samoa it's still a little bit raw," he says. "We'll be going up against rugby, and that's going to be tough."
It was only a few months ago when Mulitalo started hearing some requests from St. Joseph, a private school in Western Samoa. They needed helmets and pads could he help?
Mulitalo used to own an arena football team, so he sent the essential equipment over. It was a cause that played to his heart: helping young men learn life through the game of football.
St. Joseph then asked for more. Could he volunteer his time? Could he possibly coach?
The 37-year-old Mulitalo, his football career behind him, slowly warmed to the idea.
"One thing led to another, and sure enough that's what happened," he says. "I decided I would love to do this."
So, next month the Mulitalos will head from Herriman to Samoa, where the NFL vet will serve as get this offensive line coach, a position he could probably take anywhere he wants.
The 50 or 60 boys in the football program mostly have no concept of his fame and career achievements. To them, he's just a American coming to teach them a strange game most of them have hardly seen, much less played.
The early system will probably be rugby-based, Mulitalo acknowledges.
"There's a lot of good crossover," he says. "We'll probably tell them, if you get in trouble, just pitch it."
The obvious question arises: Why Samoa? Why go where the game is not even established?
The answer is obvious to Mulitalo, who knows there are only a few limited ways for native Samoans to ever get off the islands. They can join the military or become fishermen, he says. Sports is another path, but aspiring football players have to join relatives in American Samoa or the states to have a shot at even making the junior college ranks.
To Mulitalo, it makes more sense to bring the opportunity to the boys. He's contracted for the next four years, and a key part of his vision is to see next year's freshman class all the way through high school.
"You know, it's just a great sport that teaches young men a lot of things about life," he says. "Whenever an ethnic group, such as Samoans, is marginalized, you want to provide a way for them to make it."
There's going to be what he calls a "cultural learning curve" for his family. Mulitalo bashfully acknowledges he'll have to brush up on his native tongue, and his children will be enrolled in Samoan schools to learn their native culture. His wife, Laura Mulitalo, is Irish by descent, and also will be in for a lot of new experiences.
"It's not going to be 'Survivor: Western Samoa,' " he says. "But it's a lot of sacrifices for them. They don't know what they're in for. But we'll see what happens."
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