FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The World team didn’t get the victory in Saturday’s under-20 all-star game, but it had guidance from somebody I bet Team USA wished was on its side: Bengals DE Jonathan Fanene, who was on hand to support his younger brother, DE Aiulua Samanu Fanene, representing American Samoa.
Though Jonathan Fanene wasn’t an official coach for the game, it must have been a real treat for the World players to have him roaming their sideline and offering hands-on tips. Fanene hollered at the players to block a field-goal try and engaged in a quick lesson with DL David Lee from Canada.
“I’m just trying to give guys the little knowledge that I have,” Fanene said. “I’m just trying to help them out.”
Of course, big brother was focused on helping little brother most of all, stressing the importance of having such a stage on which to perform.
“I was just letting him know to use the power and strength that he’s been blessed with to make plays,” Fanene said. “I told him that I didn’t have this when I was in high school. I told him to take this opportunity and motivate yourself to be the best for whoever’s going to offer you a scholarship.”
Fanene was encouraged about kids from around the globe having a chance to play against some of America’s best.
“It’s a chance for the guys from other countries to come to the mainland and match their abilities and strength to the kids on the mainland,” he said. “That’s really good for them. I’m just happy and thankful for the people that put this together for the kids of this generation.”
— Simon Samano