NFL defensive players lost plenty of sleep the night before they faced this Enugu, Nigeria native on the football field.
Unlucky for them, he’s the focus of today’s #TBT sports blog. He’s also #5 in my book Scary Sports Comics.
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian Okoye’s incredible combination of size, athleticism and strength instilled intense fear into those he faced on the football field.
That fear earned Okoye the nickname Nigerian Nightmare.
And rightfully so!
The quick and fast 6’ 1” and 265 lb. running back regularly ran over or shed most would-be tacklers. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Okoye led the NFL in rushing in 1989. He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Year.
The 1991 video game Tecmo Super Bowl popularized Okoye’s punishing running style by featuring the Chiefs ball-carrier as impossible to tackle.
A 1992 Knee Injury Ended the Nigerian Nightmare’s Career
Until a nagging knee injury pre-maturely ended his career in 1992, the Nigerian Nightmare played six NFL seasons. He scored 40 touchdowns and averaged a respectable 3.9 yards per carry.
Ironically, Okoye got his football start strictly by happenstance. He was a seven-time college track and field champion in the shot put, discus and hammer throw at Azusa Pacific.
#35 only reluctantly joined the school’s football team after his native Nigeria overlooked him for a spot on its Summer Olympic Team.
NFL Recognized Christian Okoye for His Sportsmanship & Courage
In addition to his track and field accolades, the NFL awarded Okoye the 1988 Ed Block Award for inspiration, sportsmanship and courage.
Christian Okoye may have been a nightmare for defenders to bring down on the football field.
But, this Nigerian Nightmare’s electric smile, gentle spirit and engaging personality have served him well off the gridiron where his life plays out more like a pleasant dream.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!