First round draft pick Tyson Alualu arrived at Everbank Field today to sign his contract that was agreed on early Monday morning. Alualu took a direct flight from his home in Hawaii to Atlanta, GA then flew to Jacksonville from there to join his teammates.
There were some grumblings around town about Alualu actually being across the globe during contract negotiations instead of being in town, as he recently purchased for Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Chris Naeole's home. Sure, it would have been nice for Alualu to agree to terms Monday morning and jump right into practice, but some people need to understand it's a little different off the mainland.
Tyson Alualu is from Honolulu, Hawaii where he grew up in local Kuhio Park Terrace projects in Kali'l. He actually grew up in the same neighborhood as current Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Vince Manuwai, as we learned when Alualu was drafted. "I never saw him play or anything but I know watching him as a little kid I know his parents were real guarded. He was probably the only boy maybe or two, but I would see him out but every time I would see him he was always getting ready for football practice or training so he was never hanging around outside of the projects," said Vince Manuwai about Tyson Alualu. Alualu played high-school football at the famous Saint Louis School in Honolulu, which is revered in local newspapers as "Hawai'i's Team". Vince Manuwai, is of course waiting to welcome Alualu to the Jaguars with an Oklahoma Drill match up.
The American Samoan Alualu is a big time family man. He hails from a family with 8 other siblings. "Being raised up in the projects, sometimes going away in our cars, moving from shelter to shelter. Just not having the finer things in life. I just want this opportunity for me to give back to my family after all the things we have been through. It definitely helped me get to this point in my life, to live my dream after all the struggles that my parents have been through," said Alualu. A lot of people don't realize family is a big part of the American Samoan culture. I asked Alualu's agent Kenny Zuckerman about his choice to stay in Hawaii during negotiations, "He wanted to be with all of his family while this [negotiations] was going on. He is married with 2 children. He's still a young man and he looks up to his parents for support." Alualu discussed his contract with his family before finally agreeing to the terms. "More importantly, that's his culture [family]," Zuckerman added.
I can't fault Tyson for wanting to be with his family during the negotiations. It's a big part of his life and it's an important decision in this young man's career. Tyson does plan to move his family and setup in Jacksonville, Florida, but spending sometime in Hawaii before he gets into the swing of the NFL season is no big deal. "My wife and my two kids are really excited about coming out here and making Jacksonville our new home. Just having them helps me make this my home away from my Hawaii home. I’m willing to come out here and build a family here," Alualu said back in May. Sure, it would have been nice if he was in town and could have jumped right into practice Monday morning, but in the long run it's not a big deal. Alualu arrived this morning to sign his contract and should be in full pads tonight for practice.
I've already seen some Alualu jerseys in the crowd, so I expect him to get a nice ovation when he makes his way onto the Florida Blue Practice Field.