Article from the Honolulu Star Bulletin
Tennessee's Hawaiians thrill Chow
The Titans assistant has three other Hawaiians to talk story with -- LaBoy, Mahelona and Mawae
SLACK-KEY GUITAR is gaining popularity in the home of country music, but good luck finding fresh poi. And Norm Chow has met just one Tennessee Titans fan from Hawaii who lives close enough to Nashville to regularly attend games.
Still, somebody might want to open an L&L in Music City.
After last weekend's draft, the Titans now have three players of Hawaiian ancestry on their roster -- plus Chow, the offensive coordinator.
"It's interesting that we're all Hawaiians. Most of the Polynesians in the NFL are Samoans," said Chow, a Punahou graduate and Waialua coach who went on to national prominence as offensive coordinator at BYU, North Carolina State and USC before joining the Titans last year.
Former University of Hawaii star Travis LaBoy goes into his third season at defensive end, and is now joined by rookie tackle Jesse Mahelona, a Kealakehe graduate picked in the fifth round Sunday out of the University of Tennessee.
But Kevin Mawae is the "local boy" Chow is most excited about. Chow expects the All-Pro free-agent acquisition to become the leader of the Titans offensive line.
"When I met him, I joked with him that he's not a real Hawaiian, because he's not from there," Chow said of Mawae, who was born and raised in Louisiana, but who's father is a Hawaiian from Kauai. "But he is a real Hawaiian, and he's a real good football player, too."
Mawae will likely play an important leadership role as Tennessee transitions from Steve McNair to Vince Young at quarterback.
Will the Titans offense change for Young, or will Young change for the Titans offense?
"Good question," said Chow, who has also coached quarterbacks as talented and varied in style as Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
After a moment of thought, he answered.
"I think any system has got to magnify the ability of the quarterback. You can't have him come in and say to him, 'Do it this way, your way's not the right way.' What you do is say, 'This is our base,' and you adjust from there."
"I won't. There might be some people who believe that it needs to be changed, but I think there are other things more important: feet, hips, eyes," said Chow, who did not alter Rivers' unconventional short-arm throwing style. "Every baseball pitcher throws a different way, and you don't change it if it works. There are other things that can always be worked on. How he transfers his weight, shortening his stride."
When the Titans chose Young with the third selection in the NFL Draft last Saturday, some pundits assumed Chow was disappointed because he didn't get Leinart, whom he coached at USC.
"I think the No. 1 thing is it just depends what you're looking for," Chow said. "Some franchises loved Matt, some loved Jay Cutler. We obviously love Vince Young. What matters is who fits what you're trying to get done. There's so much more to it than just ball. There are factors like where you play, how much money is involved, TV."
Chow did get one of his USC guys. The Titans picked running back LenDale White in the second round with the 45th pick. Chow said it's a steal.
"When the pick came up he was the highest-rated guy on our board. A real obvious choice," Chow said.
Not to everyone.
Pre-draft reports of a failed drug test and conditioning and character issues dogged White.
"There were some concerns but Jeff (Titans head coach Fisher) really stood up for it, and I seconded Jeff," Chow said. "There's a tendency in this league to over-analyze because of the money spent and the importance to make the right draft choices. I don't believe LenDale White has any character issues. He couldn't run because he had a torn hamstring. The drug accusation was totally false. We have access to all that information."
White is a prototype NFL back, Chow said.
"The way teams play now, everybody running the zone (blocking) scheme. You need big backs to pick and choose holes. You need Reggies (referring to Reggie Bush), but big backs get you were you need to go."