Meeting the Singletary family (in church)

In a way, it's logical that the following Washington Post story about Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and his father-in-law Mike Singletary would hinge on the latter's hard-earned reputation for toughness during his Hall of Fame career at middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears. The opening anecdote combines all of the logical images that one would expect:

Mike Singletary registered nearly 1,500 tackles, played in 10 straight Pro Bowls and was among the most feared NFL players of his era. Just a fleeting glance from the middle linebacker’s bulging, threatening eyes was enough to make a tailback want to take a knee. So it’s no wonder that his five daughters thought twice before bringing boyfriends around the house.

“I was very strict with my daughters, about what they did, who they hung around with, what activities they got involved in,” said Singletary, the Hall of Fame former linebacker with the Chicago Bears. “... They were always afraid to bring a young man to the house because they thought I’d run him off.”

But after his daughter Jill had been in a relationship long enough with a young football player, Oshiomogho Atogwe, it was time to introduce him to her father, years removed from his playing days but an imposing figure nonetheless.

“The reputation preceded the man,” Atogwe said. “I was intimidated for the first 15 seconds. But the moment we said hello and started to speak, that went out the door.”

A few paragraphs later, the story slips in the fact that the two men talked a little bit about football, but that discussions of "faith and family" got the most attention.

I was going to read the whole story, of course, primarily because Singletary is my favorite NFL football player -- ever. I met him a few times when I was a student at Baylor University, since our tenures at Jerusalem on the Brazos overlapped for a year or two.

But as I read the Post report, I must admit that I grew a little bit impatient. Simple stated, the story contains tons of interesting football information about Atogwe -- but it buries the lede, if the goal is to describe the bond that quickly formed with Singletary.

The more I read, the more I kept saying to myself, "When is this story going to mention what this young Nigerian man's name actually means?" Finally, toward the end, readers learn:

Atogwe’s family has always called him Shum. When he was on the playground in Windsor, kids called him O.J. In high school and college, teammates called him Juice. But when Atogwe signed with the Redskins, he asked the team to use his birth name, Oshiomogho. Given to him by his grandmother, it means “God owns the day.”

And where did Atogwe first bump into Jill? They met at "at a conference for Christian athletes in the Bay Area."


The two men share not just a love of football but a strong faith. Atogwe, who married Jill this spring, regularly consults his father-in-law on matters big and small.

“I think the biggest thing we talk about is family, our faith, relationships,” Singletary said. “We talk about being men -- men of honor, men that can make a difference. We talk about being a good father and being a good husband and the responsibilities that come with it and what kind of legacy we want to leave as a husband or father.

“I talk to him like he’s my son. I never looked at it like I was losing a daughter. I always thought of it as gaining a son.”

The basic info is there. I'll concede that. But it is interesting that the story uses "faith" language a few times, but never actually states the obvious. A key element of this marriage and this family bond is that Atogwe is an active, articulate Christian. He's from a Christian family and now he is part of another Christian family.

If the point of the story is to describe the relationship between these two men, it doesn't hurt to -- you know -- actually describe their relationship. It's OK to say the C-word, even at the start of the story, since the faith element is where the real story starts.

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