African NFL Players Celebrated

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[Black Star Sports]

A growing number of NFL players are native-born Africans or children of African immigrants.

They hail from Ghana to Nigeria to Uganda, and several of these players were in the playoffs.

Nigeria is a hub of African football, or “soccer” as it's known here in the U.S. It's the national religion. Transcending ethnicity, politics or language group, soccer united the country. 

The country won the Atlanta 96 Olympic Gold medal in soccer. There's a time when the country produced stars in all sporting fields.

Nigeria had its first appearance in the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952, and its first victory in 1954, when Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the commonwealth games in Cardiff. 

Fast forward to 2010, there are a host of African players in the NFL and in college football. Not only is Nigeria a predominant sports nation in Africa, but a legion of athletes either Nigerian –born or of Nigerian descent are setting new standards in American Football.  In 2008, the NFL draft recruited six new Nigerian players who were phenomenal in college football.

Last year’s draft saw the influx of quite a number of Nigerian players in the first round, and this year three more are projected to be signed into the NFL. There are currently about 38 African players in the National Football League.

Some of these athletes have established a mission trip to Africa as a means of providing professional athletes the opportunity to give back to global communities at large.

On Sunday, March 14, Optima Media Group will host a star-studded NFL event, "The Athletes in the Diaspora: Community Interventions," a mission established by The Amobi Okoye Foundation.

“The flow of these players seems unstoppable," said OMG Managing Director, Rotimi Pedro. "These players of Nigerian descent have reached new heights with a significant presence in the American Football League. We must celebrate them."
In 2007, Nigerian born Amobi Okoye was drafted into the NFL, an achievement that placed him as the youngest player to appear in an NFL game since 1967. He was named Defensive Rookie of the month in September 2007, after leading the AFC with four sacks, again making him the youngest player ever to receive the award.

The Amobi Okoye Foundation was founded on the belief that all youth have the basic human right for a brighter future. It stresses education and increased physical activity. The foundation plans to build an academy of learning and sports--with the central theme “Sports for Life.”

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