Tavai recalls clutch defensive play, praises teammates


It hasn’t taken long for Jahlani Tavai to become a difference-maker in the NFL.

The former Rainbow Warrior linebacker and current-Detroit Lions rookie has only played in two NFL regular season games, but has made winning plays for his team each week.

In his NFL debut against the Arizona Cardinals, Tavai recorded a sack on quarterback Kyler Murray, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner. To follow up his first start, Tavai outdid himself – playing the role of defensive hero in Detroit with a goal line forced fumble against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“It was awesome. I guess it was more than I expected,” Tavai said. “I had a hard time hearing, but you feed off of that energy and it felt great … There was no quit in any of the guys, and you felt that on the sideline and I fed off of it and I’m sure everyone else did, it was just a great place to be at that time. It was one of those in the moment type situations, and I felt all that energy from the defense and it felt great once we recovered the ball on that stop.”

While Tavai can proud of his own play to start his career, he understands that the NFL presents a new challenge each week, meaning he has to continue to prove himself to his new team and fans. 

“Next is just worrying about next week,” he said. “We got to correct some of the mistakes we made and make sure nothing comes up next week.”

Tavai’s effort for the Lions is indicative of what the type of player he was for the ‘Bows. And even though he’s thousands of miles away from the islands, the Hawaiian culture and Warrior brotherhood is always on his mind. 

“I miss those loco mocos, not going to lie to you,” Tavai said. “The plate lunches, and I miss all my boys. I know they had a tough loss last night but I’m anxious to send them a message and tell them to keep their heads up and stay together as a team … go ‘Bows. That’s all that matters.” 

Tavai and the Lions will take on the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. 

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