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Tongan Defensive Juggernaut VITA VEA Represented At Super Bowl LV

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Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea also known as Vita Vea, is the only player of Pacific Islander heritage to play in Super Bowl LV. Vea is the son of Sione and Fipe Vea, immigrants from Tonga. Vea is a first cousin of Wales international rugby player Taulupe Faletau.

As a junior in 2017 at Washington, Vea was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and won the Morris Trophy. On January 2, 2018, he declared his intention to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.  Vea participated in the 2018 NFL Combine but did not complete all drills due to a hamstring injury. Vea was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round (12th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Vita Vea is one of the NFL’s more endearing personalities and bright young stars and one of the Super Bowl LV players to watch when his inclusion didn’t seem possible. He suffered a broken ankle in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, incurring a serious injury that would have sidelined most others until next summer.

Vita Vea’s return to play isn’t just unexpected, it’s one of the more improbable storylines of Super Bowl LV. After his injury, no one expected him to return until the 2021 season. Instead, he not only returned for the NFC Championship but he was a huge factor in the Bucs’ ability to get after Aaron Rodgers.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes acknowledged Vea and his prowess in the game lead-up, showing him ultimate respect. “He’s a guy that you gotta know where he’s at on every single play,” Mahomes said. “He’s obviously super disruptive in the run game, but he’s just as good as a pass rusher. You don’t see guys like that playing that position that can rush the passer that much.”

The big man decided that night he would do everything he could to get back. He knew full well that a Super Bowl berth was possible with the ageless and gifted Tom Brady manning the Bucs quarterback job. “I knew at the end of the day, I’d be back,” Vea said. “I kept telling myself, ‘I’ll be back.’ “

Vea’s involvement in a run-heavy game with a slick field can’t be understated.  Mahomes knows this, that whether it rains or not in Tampa, he better be looking for No. 50.

“I have to know where he is every single play in order to not let him disrupt the entire game,” the quarterback said of Vita Vea. “He’s a special talent.”

Written by: Samantha Watts-Hopkins

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