Keeping the faith


Chinedum Ndukwe

Megan will be graduating from Miami University in August with her Master's degree in Sport Psychology. She is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University where she wrote in the sports section for her school newspaper. Megan is a sports enthusiast, particularly the Bengals and Reds.

With the Bengals 2011 mystery at quarterback situation, Chad Ochocinco's new interest in reptile wrestling, and the looming lookout it might be easy to lose your faith in the National Football League. Lucky for us, there is someone to keep our faith as fans alive and his name is Chinedum Ndukwe.

Chinedum Ndukwe is not Oprah. At least not yet. But ask him what he's most proud of after his fifth season with the Cincinnati Bengals and his answer might surprise you.

It's not his 257 career tackles (he ranked fourth on the team in 2010). It's not his number of interceptions (6) or his recorded sacks (7.5).

Chinedum is most proud of his accomplishments off the field. His philanthropy résumé parallels his statistical sheet. Ndukwe attributes all of his success to his parents; Nigerian immigrants who instilled a strong work ethic from the beginning.

"My father was definitely my greatest influence. He is a self-made man who came to the United States from Nigeria with nothing. He paid for his own education, and as soon as he could, brought my mom from Nigeria to put her through school," Ndukwe said in an interview with a fan-run Internet radio show.

Ndukwe graduated from Notre Dame in three years with a double major in psychology and marketing while catching passes from now NFL quarterback Brady Quinn. In 2008 he was chosen to participate in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program and attended classes at the Harvard Business School.

When not in class or on the practice field, the Bengals strong safety can be found at one of his many volunteer sites. He has worked with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and FirstBook, a literacy program in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Ndukwe was appointed to Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory's Young Professional Kitchen Cabinet to assist in providing a fresh perspective for neighborhood development. Ndukwe took full advantage of the program; he is the owner of the Rookwood Bar & Restaurant in Mount Adams.

His latest project is involvement in the NuWay Foundation where Ndukwe sits on the Board of Directors. The Foundation's vision is to transform the lives and economic conditions of those less fortunate through education, community building and economic development in Nigeria.

In 2008, Ndukwe traveled to Nigeria for the first time since he was five years old. Before making the trip, he collected enough medical supplies to set up a free clinic and was able to care for more than 250 Nigerians.

Ndukwe's ultimate goal for Nigeria is to create a youth football camp and eventually start a sports academy that will focus on academics and football.

"I just want to give these kids the same opportunity that I had with a game that enabled me to attend one of the finest universities and ultimately gave me a great jumping-off point toward my adult life," Ndukwe said in the same radio interview.

Ndukwe is proof of the good that exists with the help of the NFL. He's not the only professional football player making a difference. Further proving what a shame it will be if the lockout continues. 

Ndukwe says he's not comparable to Oprah, but the people of Nigeria, Cincinnati and Columbus would beg to disagree. Besides, I'd like to see Oprah stand behind the line of scrimmage.

To learn more about the foundation visit nuwayfoundation.org 

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