NFL SUPER BOWL XL
BJ REYES / BJREYES@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kahuku alumnus Chris Kemoe'atu, center, talked with teammate Richard Seigler, left, as Ujish Booker gave an interview.
Spotlight shining even on rookie
Steelers reserve guard Kemoe'atu is "just happy to be here"
DETROIT » Although this is his first Super Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers backup guard Chris Kemoe'atu knows enough to avoid the horde of reporters who cluster around stars such as Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu on media day.
The rookie who just completed his first NFL season, would rather watch the spectacle from the sidelines. More accurately, above the sidelines -- five rows up in the stands at Ford Field during this year's annual session with reporters.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. Hawaii time
Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
"It's wild," Kemoe'atu says of the scene. "Everybody's getting interviewed."
"I never thought I would be (interviewed) because, obviously, I didn't get time to play this year," he said. "I'm just happy to be here."
Welcome to the Super Bowl, Chris.
When the Steelers take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL on Sunday, he will be among four players -- two on each sideline -- who hail from Hawaii.
While most probably know the other Steeler from Hawaii, Molokai native Kimo von Oelhoffen, Kemoe'atu toiled in obscurity as a rookie this season.
The former Kahuku standout was a sixth-round pick out of Utah by the Steelers in 2005, and was inactive for all but one game. For Sunday's game, he is listed No. 2 on the depth chart at right guard behind four-year pro Kendall Simmons.
"I just come out here and do what I've got to do to prepare and help the team," Kemoe'atu said. "That's all I can do, get my job done."
Despite the inaction this year, he still considers himself lucky.
"Some people have played their whole careers, you know,
14, 15, 20 years" without getting to the Super Bowl, he said. "I'm just real thankful to be here."
On the other sideline, Seahawks offensive lineman Wayne Hunter probably knows the feeling. Both he and tight end Itula Mili, who played at Kahuku, represent Hawaii on Seattle's roster.
Hunter, the former University of Hawaii and Radford High standout, has played in just two games in his three-year career with the Seahawks.
He played in only one game in 2005, relieving Chris Gray at right guard after the outcome already was decided in Seattle's 28-13 victory over Indianapolis at Qwest Field in Week 16.
BJREYES / BJREYES@STARBULLETIN.COM
Radford and Hawaii alumnus Wayne Hunter gave an interview to Melyssa Ford of Black Entertainment Television during Super Bowl media day on Tuesday.
For Sunday, Hunter is third on the depth chart at left tackle behind Walter Jones, a starter for this year's Pro Bowl, and Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack.
Like Kemoe'atu, he has focused on doing his job while also enjoying his first Super Bowl.
"I really didn't know what to expect coming into this, but it's been tremendous," Hunter said. "It still hasn't really sunk in yet, everything's so surreal right now.
"I've been watching the Super Bowl since I was in elementary, now to be here at one, as part of a team, it's amazing."
He also relishes being part of the group that earned the first Super Bowl berth in the franchise's 30-year history.
"I love it," Hunter said. "I really can't put it into words.
Even if he didn't expect to be traveling in Detroit at this time of year.
"I never thought we'd make it this far, to tell you the truth," he said. "At the beginning of the season, you're not really thinking Super Bowl, you're kind of thinking about just trying to make it into the playoffs first, then just trying to make it to the NFC Championship.
"It's just taking it step by step -- which is what we did -- which is probably why we got here."
For this game, the history and tradition is with the Steelers, who are seeking their fifth title in franchise history, something the rookie Kemoe'atu understands.
He's especially mindful of trying to help running back Bettis go out on top. Bettis, a Detroit native playing just a few blocks from where he grew up, is playing in the first Super Bowl of his 13-year career.
"Jerome Bettis ... I used to watch him as a kid growing up," Kemoe'atu said. "To be here around him in the locker room is an experience that I thought I was never going to experience, so I'm just thankful to be here."