When watching the Browns allow an amazing 151.9 yards per game on the ground in 2008, there was no doubt that filling in the middle of the 3-4 defense was going to be key during this off-season. On draft weekend, while watching the team pass up on inside linebacker Rey Malaluga in favor of OSU wide receiver Brian Robiske, it became evident that the team would address this need on the second day.
Instead of selecting one of the three “big” linebackers out of Pete Carroll’s stable, the Browns opted for the fourth backer in Kaluka Maiava in the early fourth round – a player who many pundits thought could have been selected a round earlier, and perhaps even sooner if not for being in the shadows of Malaluga, Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing.
But while those three may have had a little more attention during their stay at the University of Southern California, Maiava may have a pastime that very few (if any?) players in the NFL may share: hunting wild boar with his bare hands.
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.”
“You eat it,” he said. “You eat everything you kill.”
What does it taste like?
“Tastes like chicken,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Waxing philosophical with “shooting takes the fun out of it.” Very nice.
While I won’t debate him on what the wild boar actually tastes like after “sticking” it a couple of times, I will not hesitate to say that this is the craziest display of toughness and determination that I have ever seen or heard. This trumps Noah Herron’s attempted decapitation of an intruder, perhaps even ten fold.
How often is one in a job interview and they are asked to give an example of a time where their selected strength has been used in the workplace? Just imagine that if a corporate HR representative asked you to explain how “focus” and “quickness” may be your strong suit, and you explained back that you used to kill 150-pound wild boar with your bare hands as a youngster.
On a team that has been embarrassed by running backs and kick returners in the open field on countless occassions, I’m almost hard-pressed to not give everyone in Maiva’s family an open tryout for a spot on the Browns roster. Kaluka’s tenacity and nose for the ball-carrier was what earned him the defensive MVP in the Rose Bowl, and it may just be that skill set that lands him on the final roster of the Orange and Brown.
He won’t be brandishing a nine-inch knife while chasing down the Willie Parkers of the world, but if this guy proves to be half as good of a ballhawk that he was at the collegiate level, he will be a great addition to the run defense and special teams of the Cleveland Browns.
Now excuse me while I continue trying to visualize our new inside linebacker running through Maui after wild boar…
Browns rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava no stranger to tackling tough assignments [Plain Dealer]