Nigerian-born, Canadian-raised Israel Idonije has been an anchor on the Bears defense for nearly a decade. But it’s the issues he’s tackling off the field, through the Israel Idonije Foundation, that’s leaving a lasting impact on underserved communities in Chicago, Winnipeg and Nigeria. The unrestricted free agent and Vocalo’s Brian Babylon join Rick to discuss mentorship in the context of Chicago’s increasingly violent climate.
Israel Idonije’s path to the NFL was nothing like the ones you hear about year after year. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Idonije lived there for four years before his parents moved to Brandon, Manitoba. With barely nothing left in the pockets of his parents after the relocation, the Idonije family received some help that has helped turn Israel into the generous human being and athlete that he is today.
There’s no such thing as an off-season for Israel Idonije.
As soon as the Vincent Massey High School graduate is finished chasing down National Football League quarterbacks each winter, Idonije immerses himself in his charitable and business endeavours as well as preparations for the following season.
It’s been one week since I returned from the Israel Idonije Foundation’s (TeamIIF) annual humanitarian trip to Africa, and I’m still on cloud nine. Absolutely everything about the trip — from start to finish — was amazing. This year, after many years of visiting and serving in my home country of Nigeria, TeamIIF had the opportunity to forge a new partnership in a new place: The village of Kobedi, a farming community of approximately 1,700 people in the Sunyani West District of Ghana. The name Kobedi means, “Go and come again to eat,” which references the community’s generous hospitality.
Chicago Bears Defensive Lineman Working to Tackle Poverty; Working on Comic Book
Israel Idonije should be consumed with his free agency.
The 32-year-old Chicago Bears defensive lineman should also be thinking about who his new coach will be – should his contract get renewed – and what that new synergy might be like in the next season.
But the two thoughts concerning his professional football career are kind of at the back of his head right now.