Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inside the NFL (Nigerian Football League) a.k.a “How do you pronounce that last name… Olomowhat?”

  Warning: The following post is narcissistically self-serving and border line delusional. It is however rooted in opinion-based fact. Please apply with one grain of salt.

Has anyone else noticed the names of professional athletes getting more and more African, specifically Nigerian? I recall a time when there was the occasional Okoye or Olaujuwan on the fields and courts but now, there are a multitude of multi voweled surnames that begin with the letter “O” all over the NFL and NBA. There are @ least 4 Nigerian or Nigerian American players on two separate NFL teams and at least one on every single team in the NFL. So what exactly spurned this uprising? Has the western hemisphere discovered some sort of untapped resource in Africa and are they planning to exploit those resources for monetary benefit (sound vaguely familiar)? Is the new Pandora located somewhere in Lagos and does Unobtanium now come in the form of Yuroba speaking teenagers who happen to grow in 6 foot, 7 foot, and 8 foot bunches? More importantly, with so many representatives of the original West Coast (sorry Snoop) now in American sports, how long will it take before Jelof rice and okra based soups hit the concessions stands? Not gonna hold my breathe on that last one.

I recall a few decades ago when an aging CBS sports anchor suggested African Americans may be genetically predisposed to out perform their Caucasian counterparts. Jimmy “The babbling dotard” a.k.a “the Greek” may have been on to something with what appeared to be racially incendiary comments at that point in time. At this juncture in civilization however and keeping in line with the Greek’s assertions, I would like to trump Jimbo with an equally egregious hypothesis; Africans, particularly Nigerians are genetically predisposed to succeed in athletics! The only difference between an African and an African American is literal location (and centuries of psychological rape but I digress). Mike Vick and Michael Jordan could just as easily have been Michael Ovickjukeyou and Michael Ojordunkonyou had their ancestors not made a wrong turn @ Albuquerque. As the old adage goes, “the closer the berry, the stronger the fruit.” But why take my word for it? Allow me to expound on the skill sets necessary to succeed in professional sports and why Nigerians hold the advantage in my thoroughly detailed research findings that I am making up as I go along.
 1. Physical attributes – People of the African diaspora have a propensity to grow to rather freakish sizes whilst maintaining the speed and dexterity necessary to navigate through the toughest of offensive lines, wrestling any man or Manning to the ground. Post emancipation, Archie, Eli, and Peyton never stood a chance. It must’ve been a scout’s wet dream to touch down on African soil for the first time and witness Shaq and Serena’s partially naked ancestors harvesting berries in the wild…assuming they had basketball and tennis back then. 
2. Intelligence – It is no secret that Nigerians are touted as an intelligible people. From general academia to complex offensive packages, they certainly seem to have a penchant for schemes (offensive, defensive and internet alike). Of course this theory cannot be proven and the underwear bomber certainly throws an elephant sized monkey wrench in my hypothesis but that not withstanding, general consensus (of which I am the General) lends credence to these findings.
3. Endurance – As we all know, Kenyan’s have the market cornered on endurance. And although Nigerians are not from Kenya, Nigerians are physically closer to Kenya than most Brooklyn residents sans crackheads so by shear illogic and osmosis, Nigerians have more endurance than their East New York counterparts. Yep. And I’m stickin’ to it.
 4. Competition – Nigerians are a competitive bunch. No seriously, it’s ridiculous. They believe they are better than every living human being way before ever accomplishing a solitary thing and then they actually set out to acquire the skill sets to back it up. This is why athletics are a natural fit for a people that are fueled by achieving excellence. Not certain where or how it originated but any Nigerian worth their weight in credentials can attest to the competitive nature. Which leads to the next bullet point.
5. Status – Nigerians are a status driven people. No seriously, it’s ridiculous. A certain writer recently discovered that the name of the town his parents hail from, called Onitsha,  translated to English means “Arrogance”. Nuff said. Seeing as how excellence breeds accolades, any item or title meant to illuminate them favorably shall be pursued with maniacal focus until acquired. Multiple degrees, professions of prestige, and monetary wealth shall be on full display at all times.  It is only fitting then that professional sports, which provides a heightened environment for prestige and wealth is on the radar.
And there you have it. With the underwhelming and irrefutably uncorroborated evidence presented in this here dissertation, is it any wonder why so many Nigerians are populating professional sports? In all seriousness (and at the risk of sounding like Hitler), there are certain professions that necessitate specific physical characteristics and it is safe to surmise that if you required individuals of a certain stature, you would be inclined to search in the areas they most densely populate. Concurrently, if you were born with three hands, you should probably forego a career in kickboxing and try your hands at wide receiver. Let that be a message to all the parents hell bent on limiting their 6'5", 300 pound sons to academia specific professions. The Samoan Islands can’t be too far behind with unbalanced #’s in the NFL because quite frankly, they grow them boys big and fast down there too.

So why am I not in the NBA or NFL you ask? Because I’m 5’11" on a good day and although I love basketball, my ability to use my right hand has historically been referred to as “suspect” but more importantly, that is not where my passion lies, for if it were, the fact that I am a proud Nigerian man allows me to convince myself “I could’a been a contender” in any professional sport. Of course it’s delusional but that is the Nigerian way. We believe we can do anything and are conditioned to make the attempt. The only difference between faith and delusion is one’s level of success so we could probably all use a little more delusion.
The Nigerian Football League (NFL) Past & Present
1.     Nnamdi Asomugha
2.     Osi Umenyiora
3.     Adewole Ogunyele
4.     Israel Idonijie
5.     Prince Amukamara 
6.     Chinedum Ndukwe
7.     Ikechuku Ndukwe
8.     Trevor Mbakwe
9.     Amobi Akoye
10. Brian Orakpo
11. Christian Okoye
12. Frank Okam
13. Xavier Adibi
14. Amobi Okoye
15. Eric Ogbogu
16. Akinola “Akin” Ayodele
17. …..And a whole bunch more but you get the point.

 The Nigerian Basketball League (NBA) Past & Present
1.     Mike Olowakandi
2.     Emeka Okafor
3.     Andre Igudala
4.     Hakeem Olajuwan
5.     Yinka Dare
6.     Solomon Alabi           
7.     John Ameche
8.     Al-Farouq Aminu
9.     Ekpe Udoh
10. Gani Lawal 
11. Steve Nash (He was actually born in South Africa but once again, close enough…plus you always need at least one token white guy on your team).

Alfred “Show ‘em your “O” face” Obiesie


Anonymous said...

i love it and prepare yourself for a wave of African names! I'm going to laugh my a** off when i here the white folks struggle to pronounce the beautiful names. -- Sincerely, P. A. Bêkele-Mäkonnen I

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