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Friday, November 12, 2010

Polynesian brothers

JoJo Dickson lay defenseless on the turf with a broken leg and dislocated ankle.

Shrieks of anguish, sadness and fury roared from the field.

Except Dickson was not yelling — it was his teammates.

It was then the bond between the Polynesian players was undeniable.

"That was kinda to be expected by me," Dickson said. "If one of them goes down, I'd feel the same way. Definitely tears falling from your eyes and you got that fierceness in your heart. After that it's kinda fighting for them."

The Polynesian players understand the bond they share and it shows. When Dickson went down in the third quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies, teammates Rob Siavii and Shiloh Keo's emotions and drive hit another level. The pair was noticeably upset with the situation Dickson was in.

Keo said the emotion and intensity many Polynesian players play with comes from their family backgrounds.

"I think there is a special thing about it," Keo said. "No matter where you're from, the islands or the mainland, we cherish similar things. We're all about the family bond."

He said teammates who don't have a Polynesian background see the tight bond they share and want to be part of it. Keo said the fact that most of the Polynesian players tend to take some kind of leadership role helps too.

"You know, that kinda brings them in more and be a part of that family ... they are our brothers out there," Keo said. "There have been plenty of times where we have roomed with people that aren't Polynesian background, so I think it comes into a big effect."

Keo, Dickson and Siavii have lived together in some way during their years at Idaho and knew each other as recruits. When Dickson was being recruited by Idaho, Keo hosted him, and when Siavii was recruited one year later, he stayed with Dickson.

"Well I'd already heard about him (Siavii) as a player from Hawaii and knew he was gonna be a recruit," Dickson said, "but they put him with me because I was from Hawaii and because of that connection."

Keo said the connection the players have is usually obvious.

"We do so much outside of football and everyone around here knows it," Keo said. "You can talk to random people and they'll be like, 'Oh, there goes the big Samoan guys again, having a good time.'"

Even off the field and away from the group, their bond is visible. Some Polynesian teammates have intricate tattoo art across their bodies, and in mant cases it represents their family.

"I had like certain symbols to resemble siblings and my mom and dad," Siavii said. "I had my uncle help me draw it up."

The tattoo covers Siavii's whole right arm, and each piece of art has a special meaning to him, largely based around his family.

"Like everything you go through in life, you could get anything around us," Siavii said. "If I had one (a tattoo) for JoJo, I'd probably put like three lines, a big wall and four more lines to the side for his number, like 34."

Dickson's tattoos represent his siblings, parents and the bond that started it all. Keo said one of his dreams is to get tattoo art done.

"It's funny, because we used to go out all the time, like in the summers," Keo said. "All the Poly boys would go out and throw the football around. We'd always go out and play tattoos versus no tattoos. They'd always be like, 'Man when you gonna get tatted.' I've always told them if I'm ever to fill my dream, that's the day I get tatted."

From the field to living and hanging out together off the field to tattoos representing their families, they all agreed it isn't something that is taught. Dickson said they can't teach the bond, but is something they grow up around.

"It's developed by the things you do on and off the field," Keo said.

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