11/18/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Known as "The Nigerian Nightmare", Christian Okoye was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987. Okoye was the premier big running back of his time, weighing over 250lbs, but mixing speed with that size. Okoye was fast because before football, he excelled in track and field. Okoye actually never played organized football until college. His main interest in sports was qualifying for Nigeria's Olympic team for track and field.
But once Okoye switched to the gridiron, he found his niche. Kansas City drafted him in the 2nd round in the 1987 draft. He wasn't an immediate success though. Okoye rushed for a combined 1,133 yards and 6 TD's his first two NFL seasons. But in 1989, "The Nigerian Nightmare" was born. Okoye rushed for 1,480 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, and led the NFL in rushing that season for the Chiefs. For that effort, he was named the Chiefs MVP, the AFC Offensive Player of the year and selected to his first Pro Bowl.
Okoye took a step back the following season, rushing for 805 yards and scoring 7 times in 1990. He returned to "Nightmare" form in 1991, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 9 TD's, and made the Pro Bowl for the second time. Due to his bruising running style, injuries began to take their toll on Okoye. He retired due to a re-occurring knee injury after the 1992 season, where he rushed for a career low 448 yards. He retired as Kansas City's all time leading rusher and was elected into the Chiefs hall of fame in 2000.
Today at age 53, he is still running the Christian Okoye Foundation, which he founded in 1990. The foundation works to help underprivileged youth succeed in education and in sports. The foundation draws in at risk youth by holding free athletic clinics where former and current professional athletes coach the kids. The foundation also helps kids develop business and entrepreneurial skills through work with their corporate sponsors. He is also involved in health and fitness and founded the California Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
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