Like many things in life, for better or worse, we are born into certain ways of thinking, whether it’s religion, culture, politics, music, art, profession, or sports. Pittsburgh Steelers fans can often trace their ‘lineage’ back at least a couple generations.
Others grow into it along the way, as was the case with one of the newest members of the team, defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko. A Hawaii native, he admits he was a “huge Minnesota Viking fan”, as he told Kevin Adams and Jersey Jerry during a recent interview on the Steel Here podcast, talking about falling in love with Adrian Peterson.
“That all changed when I met Troy Polamalu”, he said, a story we touched on briefly when his mother shared a picture on social media. “Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala always did his camps in Hawaii, along with Chris Kemoeatu—the Kemoeatus are family of ours, blood related”.
Chris Kemoeatu, you might recall, played on the Steelers’ offensive line for six seasons, including three-plus as a starter. His brother, Ma’ake, spent most of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. But they are all bonded by Polynesian blood.
“One year he brings back Troy and I’m a little kid, fifth or sixth grade. The first time I get to meet Troy, I met this dude and I was like, ‘There’s no way this guy plays football. This is not Troy Polamalu’”, he said, referring to his mild manner upon first meeting him at one of Fuamatu’s camps in Hawaii, talking about how he was in awe playing Madden with him for half an hour.
“Ever since then I became a Troy fan and that’s kind of what made me become a Pittsburgh fan”, he admitted, though he said he was also a big fan of James Harrison and his story as a scrappy college free agent who persevered through a series of releases to become an All-Pro. And that took him to the heart of that Steelers defense.
“That’s how I became very fond of the old Pittsburgh 3-4 defense of Casey Hampton, [James] Farrior, Ryan Clark, a good friend of mine”, Fehoko said. “I grew up watching the Steelers, and it’s so funny how things come full circle and now I’m getting the opportunity to play for them”.
Of course, there’s still a long road to hoe first. He has to make the 53-man roster, for one thing, and that’s not a guarantee if the Steelers draft a defensive tackle, which is a distinct possibility. They only signed him to a minimum deal with no signing bonus so it would cost them nothing if he were to be waived.
But this Steelers front office identified and scouted him and brought him in because they knew he could help the team in the way that they were looking for. He’s a run stuffer, and that’s what they’ll ask of him. And perhaps he’ll do it with a little added sense of pride for having the opportunity to wear the same jersey as Polamalu and Harrison—and for playing on the same line as Cameron Heyward.