Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Oshiomogho Atogwe – Washington Redskins

This is the 29th installment in my blog series on Christians in the NFL.  Today, we will look at the story of Oshiomogho Atogwe, Defensive Back for the Washington Redskins. 

My wife and I have been married for over 7 years now, and I still remember talking to her dad for the first time.  She kind of sprung it on me.  We were at a training program in Florida, and he was in Minnesota, where she is from.  She was talking to him on the phone, and I was in the room with a group of others and she just passed me the phone.   We had a nice conversation about the training program and my favorite football team and a few other topics.  And then, a month later, I met him in person for the first time.  I was a nervous to meet him because I knew that it was important that I win him over and show that I was a good match for his daughter.  I didn’t know much about him but I was coming in as his daughter’s boyfriend so I was intimidated and anxious coming in to that first meeting.   I feel that the meeting went well, and quickly, I knew that he had accepted me as part of his daughter’s life at that point, and as part of the family soon after, when we were married.  

Now, as a dad myself, I know the standards that I have in my mind for whoever will date my daughters (they are still very young, so I have some time to prepare myself for that inevitable moment).  I hope and pray even now, that the men who marry my daughters will be men who love God, and will love her and treat her with a loving, servant heart – as Christ served the church.  

What does this have to do with the NFL and Oshiomogho Atogwe?  Well, I was intimidated to meet my father-in-law who, (sorry Mark),  is not a very intimidating presence – at least he is not as intimidating a presence as Atogwe’s father-in-law.  Atogwe’s wife Jill is a daughter of NFL hall of fame linebacker Mike Singletary – known for his punishing tackles and intimidating stare.  

Here is a Washington Post article about Atogwe, and the first time he met Mike Singletary.  

So to win over a father-in-law-to-be can be tough, but Atogwe’s father etched a history of taking “tough” head-on.    His father, Aigbomoidi, left a life of farming in the small village of Ayogwiri, Nigeria in search of life and success in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  It was a lot of hard work at multiple jobs for low income to earn enough to live on and any extra went to bring the rest of his young family over to join him in Canada. It was a long process, but eventually, Aigbomoidi was able to bring over his wife and their young family.  
Atogwe Interception


Oshiomogho is appreciative of the sacrifice that his dad made for his family.  He also sees the work ethic his father had to make working multiple jobs and saving most of your money to emigrate to a new country and bring the rest of the family in, too.  He has taken this work ethic to heart as he looks to make himself better as an NFL player.  This means long hours of practice and working out, learning and studying from former NFLers Aeneas Williams and Corey Chavous as he has done for 3 years now.  He has also completed his biological science degree from Stanford and even at Stanford, was outspoken about his faith in God.  Check out his bio from 
But he is not all business.  He also has an affinity for comic books – his favorite is “the Incredible Hulk”. As you can read in this article from’s Redskins Journal, he draws comparisons to the Hulk, and how he wants to play on the field – different in “real life” then on the field. Within the geeky, mild mannered scientist is a beast with an uncontrollable rage.  That is how he wants to play.  He is a collector of comic books, and sports many Hulk figurines and posters around his locker.   

Here are some things his story brought to my mind.
1- a) The Strength in us all.  There are 2 ways I can go with this analogy.  Let’s start with the positive.  We are very limited in what we can do with our own strength (trust me – this will be a positive).  But when we yield control of our life to God, we will see a strength rise up within us (all coming from Him) that will allow us to do far more then we ever could have imagined.  However unlike in the comics, that strength is not something that only needs to surface when the times and situations call for it.  It is something that can guide our life all the time – we just need allow God to have control.

1- b) The beast in us all – And now, for the other side of the this analogy.  We also can look at the Hulk thing as a battle that we all face against our sin-nature. In some of the Hulk stories, Bruce Banner struggles constantly to keep the destructive beast within him under wraps.  Inevitably, though, he surfaces and wreaks some havoc.  We all have this beast in us that we try (and fail) to control. We were born as sinners and we will battle against sin in our daily lives for as long as we are on this earth  In the Hulk story, the beast, though is ultimately a good thing – a Super Hero.  Sin is far from that in our lives.  The only control over it that we have is to realize that we have no control apart from a relationship with Jesus.  

2- What’s in a Name – Since this blog is called “Living Up to my Name” I do like to find out the meanings of other people’s names.  We considered the meanings of the names we gave our daughters, and I really like the meanings of my own names.  Sometimes, they are not names that you can look up (like Oshiomogho) so I am glad that he shared the meaning of his name “God knows the Day, God knows tomorrow”.  He does know all about us, and has a plan for us.  He can do far more than we can ask, think or imagine.  There is great comfort in knowing that He is in control, not just of right of all the tomorrows.  He is in control of what is happening and what will happen.  The one thing that he chooses not to control is how we interact with Him and His control.  Will you allow God to guide you and all your tomorrows?

Mark & Sherrill – My Amazing
and not-so-intimidating

3- Marriage is really cool.  I like the story of Atogwe meeting Singletary.  I love being married and I love the family that I married into as I do the family I grew up in.  I know and believe that God brought my wife and I together and I am so blessed to be a part of not only her life, but her family, too.  And I know that my family loves her as one of their own as well.  It is amazing to see how God designed for us to work through this life, and marriage and all that comes with it plays a significant role in what “life” looks like for me.  I learn a lot about God from my marriage and am thankful for a godly family of in-laws that have enhanced my life greatly.  


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  1. Pingback: TBT – My Part is to Just do My Part – Rosey Grier – DL – Los Angeles Rams | Heroes in the Game | Heroes in Life

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