Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks for a receiver as teammates hold back Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, second from left, in the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Kragthorpe: Ravens’ Ma’ake Kemoeatu trying to finish comeback

Ravens and ex-Utah tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu ballooned to 415 pounds before slimming down.

First Published Jan 30 2013 01:17 pm • Last Updated Feb 01 2013 11:36 am

New Orleans

The lineman became so big that the letters formed by intricate Polynesian symbols tattooed across his back and spelling "KEMOEATU" were stretched out of proportion — mirroring the rest of his body.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Out of the NFL, his career seemingly ended by injuries and inattention, Ma’ake Kemoeatu ballooned to 415 pounds. It’s true: The Baltimore Ravens’ giant defensive tackle who’s appearing in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII really is the "After" version, the downsized edition of a lineman having his biggest impact in the league at age 33.

"A year ago," Kemoeatu was saying Wednesday during an interview session, "I thought I wasn’t going to play football again."

Having been released by the Washington Redskins, he ultimately decided to lose weight and make one last attempt to play. The pounds melted away, and the Ravens — the team that originally signed him as an undrafted free agent from the University of Utah — became interested in bringing him back with a one-year contract. And he’s played his way into a consistent role during the team’s playoff run.

Even if 70 pounds represented only about one-sixth of his starting point, that’s a lot of weight to lose. "I had to be really strict with my diet," Kemoeatu said. "I’m more of a meat guy. I backed off of land-dwelling animals and just tried seafood and a lot of vegetables and fruits, because I know that when my weight gets up, I can’t really perform."

He’s delivering now, doing more for the Ravens’ defense that anyone could have imagined even as of training camp in August, which is exactly what motivated him.

"With our [Tongan] culture, we don’t like people to say no to us," said teammate Haloti Ngata, a Highland High School product. "We like to prove people wrong. He’s definitely done that."

That’s especially true in the playoffs. Kemoeatu made five tackles in the AFC title game against New England, extending his run of strong postseason play.

"He’s kind of solidified us," said defensive line coach Clarence Brooks. "I’m happy for him, because I know the sacrifice he made. He’s really important to us."


story continues below
story continues below

He’s pretty much the same player Brooks remembers from Kemoeatu’s original tour with the Ravens (2002-05), only more mature.

Everything involved with his comeback makes him appreciate this opportunity, while becoming part of the 23rd set of brothers to play in Super Bowls — a list that includes another pair of ex-Utes, Kevin and Andre Dyson.

Kemoeatu’s younger brother, Chris, started for Pittsburgh at offensive guard in a win over Arizona and a loss to Green Bay in recent Super Bowls, only to become part of the Steelers’ salary purge last spring.

Chris Kemoeatu hopes to follow his brother’s path back into the NFL next season. They’ve stuck together ever since former Utah coach Ron McBride discovered the brothers while he drove around the North Shore of Oahu. They later attended the Utes’ summer youth camp and eventually joined the program along with another brother, Tevita.

Ma’ake Kemoeatu’s initial success with the Ravens enabled him to sign a free-agent deal with Carolina, then he played for Washington before injuries led to his release.

His successful comeback may make him marketable again, although his biggest concern this week is performing well in front of some 20 relatives coming from Hawaii and earning a championship ring to match his brother’s.

That would be a nice way for him to represent the family name on his back — and the back of his jersey.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.