Umenyiora has good excuse for missing workouts

March, 20, 2009
3/20/09
12:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

On Friday, New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora joined a small group of NFL players on a trip to Nigeria. Houston Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye organized the trip to his native country, where the players will reward 20 Changing Africa Through Education (C.A.T.E.) scholarships to 10 girls and 10 boys who want to attend universities in Nigeria.

The players will also hold two football camps during the trip and Okoye's hoping to lay the foundation for a high school academy that would allow students to specialize in sports such as football, tennis and soccer.

"That's what I personally want to do," Umenyiora told the Houston Chronicle. "That's my thing. I think it's a great idea and something great for the continent of Africa, as far as introducing football to them. Maybe eventually the stadium that will be built at the school could host a Pro Bowl. Who knows what could stem from it."

Umenyiora was born in London but he was raised in Nigeria. Last May, Okoye and Umenyiora met for the first time. Then they set out to make a difference in Nigeria.

But this doesn't sound like a trip where some famous athletes mug for the cameras and give lip service to a cause. These men are taking six doctors and seven nurses with them to provide free health care. It's nice to hear about athletes who actually feel a calling bigger than their bank accounts. Players such as Okoye and Umenyiora could become comfortable with all their resources and simply serve themselves. But that seems against their nature.

At a time when some players are in the news for all the wrong reasons, it's nice to read a story about guys who actually seem to "get it."

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