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Christian Okoye
Christian Okoye Iraq 4.jpg
Okoye in Iraq, 2006
Position(s)
Running back
Jersey #(s)
35
Born August 16, 1961 (1961-08-16) (age 48)
Enugu, Nigeria
Career information
Year(s) 19871992
NFL Draft 1987 / Round: 2 / Pick: 35
College Azusa Pacific
Professional teams
Career stats
Rushing yards 4,897
Average 3.9
Touchdowns 40
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Christian Emeka Okoye (born August 16, 1961 in Enugu, Nigeria) is a former American Football running back for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987 to 1992. Nicknamed "The Nigerian Nightmare," Okoye was known for his powerful running style and ability to break tackles. Okoye's six seasons in the NFL saw a league rushing title in 1989, two Pro Bowl appearances (1989, 1991), and three playoff appearances. He voluntarily ended his NFL career due to multiple injuries.[1] He wore number 35.

Contents

College career

Born in Enugu, Nigeria, Okoye did not play American football until 1984, when he joined the squad at California's Azusa Pacific University. He excelled in track & field, winning seven college titles in the shotput, discus, and hammer throw. The first time he attended an American football game he thought the game was boring.[1]

After the Nigerian government failed to select Okoye for the Olympics, he sought something else to do besides track & field and went out for American football. Initially, Okoye did not enjoy the roughness of football and thought about quitting but friends convinced him to continue playing.[1] His track speed was unusual for someone his size — 6'1", 260 lbs. — and this rare combination of talents led to his selection in the second round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

NFL career

Okoye's NFL career was as brief as it was prolific. In his rookie year, Okoye rushed for 660 yards on 157 carries; and though a thumb injury limited him to nine games, he managed to gain 473 yards the following season.

In 1989, Okoye enjoyed his best NFL season by far, leading the league in both rushing attempts (370) and rushing yards (1,480). Though the Chiefs missed the playoffs, Okoye was selected by UPI as the American Football Conference's Offensive Player of the Year and earned a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

The remainder of Okoye's career was marked by a nagging knee injury, one which limited him to 805 yards and a 3.3 yard average per carry in 1990. Though his 1991 performance (1,031 yards, 4.6 yards per carry) earned him his second Pro Bowl appearance, Okoye's carries in 1992 were largely limited to goal-line situations.

Okoye has stated that he ended his NFL career since he had been becoming tired of practicing, and that he considered football to be a job.[1]

Okoye retired as the Chiefs' all-time rushing leader, having amassed 4,897 yards, 1,246 attempts, and 14 games with at least 100 yards rushing, in his six seasons. Those team records have since been surpassed by Priest Holmes. His 40 career rushing touchdowns as a member of the Chiefs trail only Holmes and Marcus Allen. His Chiefs records for carries in a game and rushing attempts in a season were recently surpassed by Larry Johnson. Okoye was the team MVP in 1989, and was enshrined in the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2000.

Post-NFL career

Okoye is currently an investor in the Golden Baseball League and owns Okoye Health and Fitness, a company that sells nutritional supplements. He made an appearance as a boxer on the FX Network's Celebrity Boxing special. He also founded the California Sports Hall of Fame of which he is president.[2]

He appeared on the CBS reality show Pirate Master and was voted off by his shipmates on the second episode for his slow speed in the Expedition. He went home with no gold from Expeditions.[3] Okoye appeared on Pros vs Joes in its third season.

He also worked at Montclair High School in Montclair, California as a head football coach.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Radio interview on the Phoenix-based sports talk show "Gambo & Ash" on KTAR 620, April 10, 2008
  2. ^ "State's Hall of Fame to induct first class". http://www.theunion.com/article/20061214/SPORTS/112140118. Retrieved 2007-01-01.  
  3. ^ Warner, Tyrone (June 8, 2007). "Ex-NFL running back cut adrift from 'Pirate Master'". CTVglobemedia. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20070608/pirate_christian_070608/20070611/. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  

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