Nico & Vinz had their shot, now the next Nico Vitale and Vince Manuwai will take the stage.
Ferd Lewis reported in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the Pro Bowl has invited every high school football player on Oahu to participate in the 2016 Pro Bowl halftime show at Aloha Stadium.
Last year, the show was handled by singing group Nico & Vinz.
Peter O’Reilly, NFL vice president for special events, says the league has set aside 1,879 seats for local players and coaches and will handle all transportation. The players and coaches will be paraded around the stadium during intermission and it is designed to resemble the opening ceremonies for the Olympics.
Current players can contact their coaches to get in on the action.
While soaking in the atmosphere of the rare site of a sold out Aloha Stadium from field level, prep prodigies can also gain some perspective. More than a few of them will take the time to imagine returning to the game as a player, but between the exhibition’s dying days in Hawaii and cold, hard facts it would be a long road.
The Pro Bowl has been played at Aloha Stadium since 1979, except in 2009 and 2013 when it was farmed out to Super Bowl cities. In all that time, only four men who were born in Hawaii played high school ball in the islands have returned to the stadium as a Pro Bowler: Olin Kreutz of Saint Louis, Max Unger of Hawaii Prep, Jesse Sapolu of Farrington and Mark Tuinei of Punahou.
Because legends Sapolu and Tuinei were not born in Hawaii and Unger plied his trade on the Big Island, Kreutz is the only Oahu-born athlete to play at the Stadium as both a high schooler and professional.
Unger had to wait until the 2002 state tournament to play under the bright lights. His Ka Makani lost 35-0 to Castle.
75 players born in Hawaii since 1979 have played in the NFL. Only two of them have returned for the Pro Bowl.
Punahou’s Charlie Ane, Kamehameha’s Rockne Freitas, Punahou’s Mosi Tatupu and Russ Francis (Kailua) also went from Hawaii High School ball to the Pro Bowl, but their pro careers predated the game being in Hawaii.