Template:Use Canadian English

Israel Idonije
Idonije in 2008
No. 71, 72, 77     
Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1980-11-17) November 17, 1980 (age 39)
Place of birth: Lagos, Nigeria
Career information
University: Manitoba
CFL Draft: 2003 / Round: 2 / Pick: 17
Undrafted in 2003
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Cleveland Browns ( 2003)*
Career highlights and awards
*Led NFL in blocked punts/fields goals in 2005, 2006, 2007
Tackles     283
Sacks     29.0
INTs     0
Forced fumbles     6
Touchdowns     1

Israel Idonije, O.M. (born November 17, 1980) is a retired Nigerian-Canadian defensive end in the National Football League and actor. Idonije was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns out of the University of Manitoba. A draft pick of the now defunct Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League, for whom he never played a game, Idonije spent the start of the 2003 season on the Browns' practice squad prior to his release in September. He was subsequently signed to the Chicago Bears' practice squad for the final six weeks of the season.[1]

He has also played for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and New York Giants.

Early years Edit

Idonije was born in Lagos, Nigeria and immigrated with his family to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, when he was four years old.[2][3] He attended Vincent Massey High School in Brandon and, though he had never played football and was reluctant, coach Kevin Grindey convinced him to play when the school restarted its Canadian football program in 1997, when Idonije was a senior in high school.[4] He went on to play CIS football for the Manitoba Bisons. During this time he worked as a daycare teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, played in the East-West Shrine Game, and was drafted 17th overall by the Ottawa Renegades in the 2003 CFL Draft. At Manitoba from 2000–02, Idonije recorded 16 sacks which stands fourth all-time in Bison history. He helped lead the Bison to the 2001 Vanier Cup where Manitoba was defeated by the Saint Mary's Huskies. In 2002, Idonije was named 2002 Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year. His goal, however, was to play in the National Football League.[5]

Professional career Edit

NFL combine Edit

Idonije was not invited to the NFL Combine, but appeared on his own to distribute tapes of his years at University of Manitoba. Nine NFL team scouts were originally scheduled to attend a subsequent workout in Manitoba, but only one team, (the Cleveland Browns) ended up attending due to the SARS outbreak concerns at the time.

Cleveland Browns Edit

As a rookie in 2003, Idonije was signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent, and put on Cleveland's practice squad.[5] He was waived by the Browns midway through the season.

Chicago Bears Edit

Idonije was obtained by the Chicago Bears as a practice squad player late in the 2003 season and made the final roster the following year. Idonije also played gunner on the punt coverage team.[6]

In 2006, Idonije became a restricted free agent and the Buffalo Bills attempted to sign him, but the Bears retained him by matching their offer. During the 2007 NFL Season, Idonije had three consecutive games with a blocked field goal or extra point. In 2008, Idonije set career highs in sacks (3.5), tackles (22), and passes defenced (6). In May 2009, signed a two-year, $7 million contract extension with the Bears. On December 30, 2009 Idonije was placed on injured reserve due to a foot injury.

In 2010, week 5 at the Carolina Panthers, Idonije recorded 3 sacks.[7]

In 2011, in week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks, Idonije scored his first NFL touchdown after a fumble recovery in the end zone after Tarvaris Jackson had the ball stripped by Julius Peppers.

With the drafting of Shea McClellin in 2012, Idonije was moved to defensive tackle. In the second game of the preseason against the Washington Redskins, Idonije recorded 2½ sacks on rookie and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.[8] Idonije would once again record 2½ sacks in week three against the St. Louis Rams.[9] Idonije ended the season with 40 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a forced fumble, and he was later named to the USA Today All-Joe Team.[10]

Detroit Lions Edit

On June 25, 2013, Idonije signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions.[11][12] Idonije recorded 11 tackles and half a sack during the 2013 season.[13]

Second stint with Bears Edit

On March 18, 2014, Idonije signed a one-year deal to return to the Bears.[13] The Bears released him on June 19, 2014.

New York Giants Edit

Idonije signed with the New York Giants on August 5, 2014.[14] He was released on August 30, 2014.[15]

Outside football Edit

Athlitacomics Edit

Idonije revealed his new comic, The Protectors, at its soft launch during the New York Comic Con in October 2012.[16] He came up with the idea at the Chicago Bears training camp in 2007. The Protectors, set in the future, is based around a group of super athletes who learn they are blessed with super powers[17] that help protect humanity. Idonije brought on writer Ron Marz and artist Bart Sears to complete the project. Idonije will be publishing the comic through the publishing company he founded, Athleta Comics.[18] Athleta Comics is part of Athleta Entertainment.

The Protectors issue #0 made its debut at C2E2 in Chicago, April 26–28, 2013.[19] Issue #1 is scheduled to come out in September 2013.

Idonije also created Sports Heroes' showcasing athletes through comic artistry, and Athlitacomics became an NFLPA licensee. Sports Heroes can be found on the first of its kind consumable NFLPI licensed product.[20]

Idonije launched his DreamKidz Love book series to promote social and emotional awareness for children. His first book "I Love Me (Izzy Cover) was released on Amazon on January 24, 2017.[21]

Prior to the 2018 NFL season, Idonije and Athlitacomics formed a partnership with the Bears to create a "Monsters of the Midway" comic universe to promote the Bears' 2018 schedule.[22]

Ask The Doctor Edit

Idonije along with serial entrepreneur, Prakash Chand founded medical question and answer service Ask The Doctor A portal allowing anyone, anywhere immediate access to a doctor.[23]

Idonije and Ask The Doctor recently announced a scholarship fund for students entering 1st year of an accredited American or Canadian college or university, or exceptional high school graduates or high school drop outs looking to start a digital health company.[24]

iF Charities Edit

Idonije established iF Charities, formerly known as the Israel Idonije Foundation[18] in 2007. It is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its mission statement reads: "iF Charities is committed to impacting underserved communities by providing programs focused on social and emotional life skills." It serves communities in Chicago, Winnipeg and West Africa - all the places Idonije has called home. iF Charities offers several core programs, projects, and events:

  1. Shop With A Cop - an annual holiday shopping program designed to foster better relationships between youth and law enforcement
  2. All-Star Football and Cheer Camps - an annual program that provides a free one-day camp to 250+ youth where they receive training in drills, conditioning and other techniques from athletes and coaches.
  3. IZZYz KIDz After-School Program - a daily program that provides a safe, constructive environment for youth. iF Charities no longer provides this program, but is working towards providing a consistent after school tutoring/mentoring program in the future.[25]
  4. Project Africa - an annual humanitarian trip to West Africa to provide medical services and a youth sports empowerment program.[25]
  5. iF Code - iF Code is the newest addition to the successful, skill-building programs offered by iF Charities. iF Code is a free program created and designed to give at-risk youth an introduction into the world of technology. Through the program, students gain insight and an education of marketable skills for the rapidly growing technology industry that is on track to have 1.4 million new jobs by 2020. After completing introductory classes in coding, software and hardware development, web development and more, students who have the aspiration and aptitude can move on to receive more in-depth training. Ultimately, these sought-after skills will provide strong opportunities for future success as well as build better communities as a whole. iF Charities is focused on loving and supporting tomorrow’s leaders by bringing the community together to transform lives through strategic non-profit, corporate, and individual partnerships. Together we can put our youth on the path to success, creating a new pipeline of future entrepreneurs who are ready to add value and diversity to the industry.[25]
  6. Youth Leaders Summer Intern Program - a summer long job shadowing and career development program for high-achieving students from the Chicago area.[26][27]

On June 10, 2013, Idonije was awarded the "Humanitarian Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy" by All Sports United, which recognizes one athlete per year that demonstrates exceptional commitment to public service. The Humanitarian Award carries with it a $100,000 media grant thru PVBLIC foundation.

Blessed Communion Edit

Idonije started Blessed Communion[28] in 2009. Blessed Communion manufactures dual-chambered, pre-filled Communion cups for individuals, churches and other religious organizations.[29]

The Bureau Chicago Edit

Idonije opened up an office, meeting and business event space in the South Loop.[30][31]

Order of Manitoba Edit

Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor Philip S. Lee announced on May 12, 2014 that Idonije is to be inducted into the Order of Manitoba. The ceremony took place at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on May 21, 2014.[32]

References Edit

  1. "Idonije didn't let snub kill his dream". February 18, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  2. "NFL star serves as principal for a day at Winnipeg school". CBC News. March 11, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
  3. "Israel Idonije". Current Players. National Football League. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
  4. Taylor, Scott (October 2007). "Manitoba's Friday Night Without Lights". Manitoba Score Magazine (Winnipeg: Manitoba Score Magazine) 1 (1): 25–29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mayer, Larry (February 18, 2009). "Idonije didn't let Combine snub stop him from chasing dream". Chicago Bears. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
  6. "The Official Website of the Chicago Bears". Archived from the original on August 27, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  7. "Bills reach midpoint winless after loss to Bears". CBS Interactive. November 7, 2010.
  8. "Idonije leads sack attack in victory". Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  9. Mayer, Larry (September 18, 2012). "Bears cruise behind strong defensive effort". Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  10. Mayer, Larry (February 13, 2013). "Idonije voted to USA Today's 'All-Joe' team". Chicago Bears. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  11. "Lions sign DL Israel Idonije to one-year deal, per league source.". June 25, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  12. Dickerson, Jeff (June 25, 2013). "Israel Idonije agrees to join Lions". ESPN. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Bears bring back DL Idonije". The Washington Post. Associated Press. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  14. David Smith, Michael. "Giants sign Israel Idonije". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  15. Florio, Mike. "Idonije out in New York". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  16. "NYCC: Football Star Israel Idonije Unveils 'Protectors'". USA Today. October 12, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  17. "DE Idonije Turns Athletes into Superheroes". ESPN Playbook. January 25, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Israel Idonije Profile". InLeague. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  19. "Comics Buff Israel Idonije Unveils his Superhero Tale at C2E2". Red Eye Chicago. April 25, 2013.,0,5689590.story. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  20. "NFL Players Inc. - Quarterback Gummies". Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  21. Afro, Neo (November 21, 2017). "I Love Me: Izzy Cover (I Love Series) Paperback – January 24, 2017".
  22. "Bears form 'Monster' partnership with Idonije". Chicago Bears. April 20, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 "Nigerian-born Israel Idonije Readies Himself for Annual Africa Trip". Yahoo Sports. January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  26. "Israel Idonije". Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  27. FOX. "Fox 32 Chicago News, Weather, Breaking News, Sports, Live Reports | WFLD". WFLD. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  28. "NFL's Israel Idonije Breaks Bread - and Ground - with Blessed Communion". Black Enterprise. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  29. "Israel Idonije's Hard Hitting Faith". The Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  30. "Sloopin - A South Loop Blog: Israel Idonije to Host Open House for His New Coworking Venture, The Bureau at 1420 S. Michigan Ave". Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  31. The Loni Swain Show: The Bureau Chicago,, retrieved September 3, 2015
  32. "Order of Manitoba to welcome 14 new members". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved May 12, 2014.

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