Where Are They Now? Chris Fuamatu-Ma'Afala


Where Are They Now?


Running Back
Resides in Hawaii

What is your current job and what does it entail?

I am working with Army Youth Sports. We organize games and different sports for kids in military families. We have different programs for them, have sports games for them. I help put the programs together and implement them. It's a lot of fun. We are able to do football camps using the military facility. It helps out a lot because it can hold a lot of people. We have had a lot of football camps. It's awesome.

Did you ever help at football camps for kids while you wee playing for the Steelers?

I did a couple of football camps up there that Merril Hoge and Chris Conrad ran. That got me interested. Plus football is what I have been doing all of my life. That's what I know and I wanted to give back to the community. Sports are what I do. It's right up my alley.

What is the reaction you get from kids having a former NFL player helping out?

It's big, especially me coming from Hawaii. It kind of gives them hope. What has been happening lately is there is a big boom of Polynesian players getting drafted or a shot at the NFL. It's been good. I never got to visit with any Polynesian professional football players. They usually all stayed on the mainland after the season. I saw them on television but never got to meet them. This is a good way to show them a face and show the kids that they can make it too.

What is the fondest memory from your playing career?

I would have to say when I used to drive to Three Rivers Stadium and I would come in with a broken down car. It was the only old car to pull up. Everybody else had the up-to-date brand new cars but when I would pull in the fans would still be excited to see me. That was huge. I will never forget that. What great fans.

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What was your best game?

I didn't get to play much so that's hard. I would say a game against Cleveland when I scored. I played a lot on special teams, more than I did on offense. But at the end Amos Zereoue hurt his shoulder and they put me in at the end.

What did you like most about playing for the Steelers?

Everything was like a family. I miss the fans. It wasn't the same when I went to Jacksonville. Steelers fans are so loyal. The friendships, the city are great. It will always be my second home. I can't wait to come back and visit. I want to take a trip back.

Did it amaze you the way the fans embraced you?

When you aren't playing as much you figure you are not going to have a good fan base. But that was not the case for me. The fans in Pittsburgh realize how players play. I know they saw me get knocked out on a kickoff a couple of times, but they knew what they wee going to get when I took the field. I was going to give it everything I had. That's the one thing I always appreciated about the fans is they could separate the real from the fake. It was awesome.

Who were the teammates you were closest to during your playing days?

Kimo von Oelhoffen, being from Hawaii, and I were close. Troy Edwards, Joey Porter, Hines Ward – we all came in the same class. Deshea Townsend, Alan Faneca, Jerame Tuman. I was close with everyone. There were so many friendships. During training camp we would stay up late and hang out. I really miss that part of the game.

Do you still keep in touch with former teammates?

Oh yeah. Whenever I get a chance I give them a call or text them. I am going to meet up with Jerome Bettis soon. He is coming to Hawaii and we are going to get together. He was a big part of my career coming up.

Was it important to your development to have a guy like Jerome helping you?

That was big. That was huge. Me coming out of college I was raw.  I didn't really understand things. Between the tackles there are a lot of adjustments running backs have to make. Watching him on film and sitting in the meeting room by him he would whisper advice – see what I did here. It was the little stuff that helped me. It helped me in my career. He was a big plus for me.

Do you still follow the Steelers and if so, how closely?

That's my team. I will never be remembered as a Jaguar. I will always be remembered as a Steeler.

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