Christian Okoye, better known as the “Nigerian Nightmare,” might be one of the biggest fan favorites in Kansas City Chiefs history. Okoye had a very unique story in terms of his pathway to football stardom. Born and raised in Nigeria, he came to Azusa Pacific University at the age of 21 not as a football player but as a track athlete.
After starring for the university in track and field for two years, winning seven national titles in shot put, discus and hammer, Okoye was surprisingly omitted from Nigeria’s 1984 Olympic team. With nothing else to occupy his time, he decided to give football a try. This proved to be a life-changing decision.
At 6’1″ and 260 pounds, with the ability to run a 4.45 second time in the 40-yard dash, Okoye possessed both unique size and speed for the running back position. This drew the attention of the Kansas City Chiefs, who drafted him in the second round of the the 1987 NFL Draft.
He’d go on to have a spectacular career with the team, with the speed to run around would-be tacklers or bulldoze a long line of opponents. From his rookie season on, his legend as the “Nigerian Nightmare” grew.
The best stretch of his career came from 1989 to 1991 at the behest of new coach Marty Schottenheimer and his patented “Marty Ball” philosophy. This philosophy focused heavily on the running game and Okoye was a major benefactor.
During this three-year period Okoye averaged 1,105 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns and became the first Kansas City Chiefs running back to rush for 1,000 yards in more than one season. His best season came in 1989 when he broke the team’s all-time rushing mark for a season with 1,405 yards.
Okoye played seven seasons in total for the Kansas City Chiefs and currently sits at number four in career rushing yards for the franchise with 4,897 yards. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time First Team All Pro, and to this day, he remains one of the more recognizable names in Chiefs History.