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Engineering a switch


The newest Bengal, Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, made his Paul Brown Stadium debut Thursday and nodded in the direction of the greatest Bengal, the Hall of Fame bust of left tackle Anthony Munoz.

"I hope," he said, "to play like he did back in day."

But since he was born the last year of Munoz's career in 1992, you have to go back in the day to Ogbuehi's boyhood to find out how close he came to not being here at all. After their son's first NFL news conference, Chris and Kelly Ogbuehi seemed almost relieved.

"We thank God he didn't listen to us," said his father, Chris Ogbuehi, of the initial decision not to let him play football. "I grew up playing soccer. It wasn't something we were used to. We watched it and it's more physical. We were afraid he might get injured, so the concept was go to school, get an engineering degree, get a job. But he is someone who believes in what he wants to do and at the same time we wanted to allow him to make some decisions on his own. Not try to pull him down."

Kelly figures her son was about 11 when they relented, a sign-up day Chris still remembers.

"When we first went for selection, all eyes were on him. I said, 'Why is everyone looking at you?'  He used to be big chubby," Chris said. "The same year, there was a team called the Cowboys that always won. So that's yes, the year they won the championship and then he joined Allen High anyway. And the first time they won the state championship."

That's a familiar theme in the Ogbuehi family that lives in Allen in the Dallas area. Hard work and championships. Chris, who moved to Texas from Nigeria 30 years ago, went to the University of Texas at Dallas and has degrees in nursing and accounting. Kelly, who is also a nurse, went to the University of Texas at Arlington.  They met in Nigeria, but didn't marry until she came to the United States in 1990 and they had the wedding in 1991.

They run a home health care company, but this week there has been a break. Most of their family of six (two boys, two girls) made the trip to Chicago Tuesday for the draft and then Cincinnati Friday. Ced never did get that engineering degree. He received his bachelor's degree recreation, parks, and tourism sciences before his final season at A&M.

"We just supported him. I found out that (football) was his passion," Chris said. "We didn't want to let him down, even though we have a different mindset in terms of letting him go get his engineering degree and things like that."

His coaches say their son has a high football I.Q. , which wouldn't surprise his father because he still sees an engineer

 "When he was little, if you bought him toys, the first thing he would do was what?" Chris asked.  "Break them up, and then fix them back. So he was that good."

Kelly no longer worries her son is going to get taken apart like one of those toys.

"I don't even think about it now," she said. "I just pray for him. I know he's going to be fine."

It turns out, this happened all before in Chris' soccer career.

"I played soccer, I did high jump. I did sports. It's just like growing up here," he said of Nigeria. "Some people grew up liking baseball. Not everybody is used to football, just like some of them are not used to soccer. Like I said before, watching football, it's more physical and coming from a culture that doesn't play football, we were kind of skeptical of him getting injured.

"When I was in high school. And of course my dad never wanted me to play. He seen me play and he asked me 'What are you doing? People who play soccer don't do well in school," he recalled.

"So your dad passed it on to you,' Kelly told him.

"He passed it on to me," Chris said.

But PBS on a Friday evening provided a little bit of a different ending.

"Eventually, as time goes by, we get used to the game,' Chris said, "and it becomes more fun and we encourage him to move on."

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