super bowl tattoo

When Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Fili Moala wraps his arms around opponents to make a tackle, the word tattoos on his forearms spell out his heritage and pride - "Tonga style".

"That's my swagger," the 24-year-old National Football League rookie said Tuesday as the Colts and New Orleans Saints met with reporters ahead of Sunday's championship showdown in Super Bowl 44.

Moala's father and grandfather spent a month on a boat to emigrate from Tonga to the United States and US-born Moala still has relatives in the Pacific islands who will cheer for him Sunday.

"My parents did a lot in giving me the cultural background," said Moala, who tried rugby as a youth. "There are a lot of Tongan rugby players. The skills translate. We just take to the game I guess."

A small woman television reporter took a lineman's stance opposite the massive Moala and his Colts teammate Freddy Keiaho, a 27-year-old Fiji-born reserve linebacker, jokingly shouted, "Do a head slap."

When Keiaho and Moala were asked to dance the Haka, the native Maori dance traditional before New Zealand sports events, Keiaho warned, "Oh no, you don't want to see the Haka."

Keiaho has made 44 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a quarterback sack this season. He spent half his pre-teen years in Fiji before his family moved to America and he followed his older brother into gridiron.

Keiaho has pride in his island heritage.

"It's a magic community," Keiaho said. "When you see islanders out here, you know they are doing something great."

Colts receiver Sam Giguere of Canada, who made five kick returns in a snowstorm during a season-ending loss at Buffalo, wore sunglasses and was looking forward to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which open next week.

"I've got tickets to a couple of hockey games," he said.

The Saints' roster includes defensive tackle Remi Ayodele, a 26-year-old starter of Nigerian heritage who made 61 tackles and recovered two fumbles this season. His relatives in Africa are looking forward to seeing him play.

"They are excited. They will be watching," Ayodele said. "It feels awesome to be here. It feels amazing. I hear we will be walking on clouds when Sunday comes around."

Humidity made Ayodele's Mohawk haircut fluffier than he would have liked.

"It's kind of 'fro-ing because of the weather," he said.

While Saints offensive guard Jamar Nesbit is American, the 33-year-old son of a US Army engineer lived in Germany and Saudi Arabia until moving to the United States at age 14 and never played American football until he was 15.

"I played everything else," Nesbit said. "I liked baseball. I couldn't hit a curve ball to save my life. My pro baseball career was cut short in its infancy by that darn curve ball."

Nesbit barely saw American football before learning to play in high school.

"We would get sporadic games on television but to follow a team or a season was difficult," he said. "When I started, it was a big learning curve for me. I jumped in with both feet. I enjoy a challenge."

Nesbit is part of the blocking unit for the NFL's highest-scoring offense and finally in a Super Bowl in his 12th NFL season.

"I never really had this growing up as a goal. To finally get here is a blessing," he said. "Had it happened to me earlier in my career, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now."
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