People talk a lot about the “bravery” and “heroism” of their favorite athletes and teams. When a football player dons pads and runs as fast as he can into another football player, we call them “tough.” Sure, it’s a bit overblown and silly, but that’s pro sports for you.
Sometimes, though, it’s warranted. When Pat Tillman traded in his pads for fatigues, that was heroic. When hottie surfer Bethany Hamilton climbed back on her board after getting her arm bitten off by a shark, that was brave. When it comes to tough, they don’t come much tougher than Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava, who hunts wild boar. With his bare hands.
Maiava was the Browns’ fourth-round pick and is expected to play the fourth linebacker in Cleveland’s 4-3 defensive scheme. He could have been drafted higher, but was overshadowed by USC teammates like Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews. Maiava grew up in Hawaii and, well, I’d better let the CLEVELAND PLAIN-DEALER (via WAITING FOR NEXT YEAR) explain:
Maiava, a 5-11, 229-pound native of Hawaii, explained that one of his pastimes is hunting wild boar in the mountains of Maui — without a gun.
“[Mangini] asked me ‘what kind of gun do you use?’ and I said, ‘no, that’s cheating,’” Maiava said at rookie camp Saturday. “Anybody can shoot something. It takes the fun out of it. We grab a couple of dogs and a 9-inch knife and go out and stick ‘em a couple of times.”
Maiava, the Browns’ fourth-round pick, was introduced to boar hunting by his brothers and friends when he was 15, and soon learned that the youngest hunter must carry the boar home on his back.
“I got lucky,” he said. “Mine was only about 150 pounds.”
How awesome is that? The closest I’ve ever gotten to doing that was cutting up a rack of pork spareribs with a butcher knife in the kitchen. Perhaps that’s the reason I wasn’t good enough to play pro football; there just weren’t enough bare-handed boar hunting opportunities for me growing up in the wilds of north-central Illinois. It’s a good thing Kellen “I’m a soldier” Winslow, Jr. isn’t still a Cleveland Brown, or his fake-soldier ass might end up with a 9-inch Hawaiian warrior knife in it.