Throwback Thursday

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This week the Chiefs announced they’ll be signing free agent running back Carlos Hyde and I couldn’t be more excited. He put up big numbers last year in his six games with the Browns before being traded to the Jaguars who for some unknown reason decided they couldn’t use him. So I thought we’d take a look back at another power back that ran like he was angry at the grass. Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye.

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Born in Enugu, Nigeria, Okoye immigrated to the United States when he was 21 years old. He was a star athlete in several track and field events including shot put, discus, and the hammer throw. –I looked it up. Sounds way cooler than it actually is.– His plan was to compete in the Olympics for the Nigerian team but was passed over by the Nigerian government. Discouraged by the let down Okoye turned to football.

He didn’t attend his first American football game until he was 23 and actually thought the game was boring. Easy people, nobody is perfect. That year he began playing at Azusa Pacific University and almost quit the game completely because he didn’t like how rough the game was.

Luckily for the Chiefs his friends convinced him he had a special combination of size and speed so he continued to play and would go on to be drafted in the second round in 1987.

“We thought he was almost too good to be true,” said Jim Schaaf, the Chiefs’ general manager at the time. “Our personnel people said this kid’s got everything. He’s got the size, he’s got the speed, he’s got the intelligence, he’s got the character.”

In his first two seasons, Okoye was limited by injuries but was still able to tally over 1,000 yards. He had his break out season the next year when he rushed for 1,480 yards and 12 touchdowns earning him his first trip to the Pro-Bowl as well as AFC offensive player of the year honors.

After playing just 6 seasons with the Chiefs, Okoye decided it was time to hang up his cleats because he was tired of practice and said football had become more of a job than something he loved to do anymore. His final rushing attempt was an 8 yard touchdown run.

The Nigerian Nightmare finished his career with 4,897 rush yards and 40 rushing touchdowns. At the time both were Chiefs franchise records and he left a very unhealthy fear of shoulder pad neck rolls in the league.

Okoye would go on to invest in the Golden Baseball League and he also owns Okoye Health and Fitness, a company that sells nutritional supplements. He also co-founded the California Sports Hall of Fame of which he is the president.

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What are your fondest memories of Christian Okoye? Were there any plays you saw that made him stand out to you?

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tecmo_sb35
tecmo_sb35

Okoye peaked during my impressionable football years and I have followed the Chiefs ever since.
I still view him as part of the beginning of the “bigger, faster, stronger” movement.

MasterChief
MasterChief

Me too. I remember watching him getting 10 yards with 11 guys on his back over and over again. He’s amazing.

upamtn

always loved me some Okoye … great RB and awesome person

BigRed
BigRed

Okoye was leaving just as I was beginning to really become a Chiefs fan. But I do love watching highlights of his. Dude was a flat out beast. I’ve never seen anyone remotely like him at the RB position since.

Also, how lucky have we been as Chiefs fans when it comes to RB’s? Okoye, Allen, Holmes, Johnson, Charles, etc….seems like we just keep coming up with great RB’s.

wustl_chiefs_fan

An old but fun video about Okoye.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OO-w04DUv4

BigRed
BigRed

Great video!

CHIEFSandSABRES

Chiefs typically have a great history with running backs, and Okoye is one I certainly enjoyed watching. Hopefully Hyde can put up 40 Touchdowns next year!

BigRed
BigRed

I was just talking about the Chiefs awesome RB history. I really feel like Williams is going to surprise a lot of people this year and add his name to the list. I think Hyde will be a great bruiser to spell Williams, but I really think Williams will be the one to break out.

CHIEFSandSABRES

Would be awesome. We need it for sure.

Nasrani
Nasrani

Okoye was a bruiser on the 1993 iteration of Tecmo Super Bowl. That’s really the only time I remember hearing his name, other than when my dad would talk about him or when I would watch old Chiefs highlights on TV and such. He retired before I can consciously remember watching the Chiefs (I would watch the subsequent running backs, Greg Hill, Marcus Allen and Kimble Anders).

Interesting article and thanks for putting it up!

ElPasoJason
ElPasoJason

My favorite of all time (tied with DT, of course) and just a fun playwr to watch! I needed this after yesterday. Thanks man!

I don’t have a memory of a specific play that did it, but watching Christian play was what cemented my love of the Chiefs. I was born in KCMO so I was always going to be a Chiefs fan, but I only got to watch the Chiefs once in a while living in Albuquerque. Every time Christian was on the field I was locked in.