Friday, April 10, 2009
Black and Blue all over: Saving lives
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
On Good Friday, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune brings us the story of how Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and defensive lineman Israel Idonije helped a Nigerian girl travel to the United States for life-saving heart surgery.
The two players were part of a goodwill trip last month to the African country, where Ogunleye's sister is a congresswoman. After hearing about the girl's plight, Ogunleye had his sister get in touch with the girl's family. After learning more about her situation, Ogunleye and Idonije paid for her flight to Austin, Texas, where surgery was scheduled.
An organization called Heart Gift in Austin organized and performed the surgery, according to the story.
Ogunleye: "We both wanted to be a part of helping them. We checked out the organization [in Texas] to make sure it was legit and just took one look at her little girl and it was a no-brainer. We did what anybody in our position would do."
Ogunleye, Idonije and Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris were three of seven NFL players on the trip, which was organized by Houston defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. Six doctors and seven nurses also participated to hold free medical clinics.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times confirms that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is eligible for his full $100,000 workout bonus because the Bears' program started later than Denver's, which Cutler was skipping before last week's trade.
- USA Today's Jarrett Bell looks at whether Cutler will transform the Bears into a passing team. Coach Lovie Smith told Bell: "In a perfect world, you want balance."
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reports Detroit quarterback Daunte Culpepper has lost more than 30 pounds since reporting to the team at 292 last year.
- The Lions are trying to determine where linebacker Jordon Dizon, a second-round draft pick last year, fits into their defense. Dizon was a smallish 223 pounds as a rookie, notes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
- Green Bay officials are pushing forward with plans to market Lambeau Field as a possible site for a first-round World Cup match even though its playing field isn't big enough for a standard soccer pitch (as we like to call it). Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains.
- Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette takes a look at Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, the son of Packers Hall of Famer Paul Coffman.
- Minnesota coach Brad Childress has left the door open for offensive lineman Ryan Cook to work at center this offseason, but Cook said no one has mentioned that possibility to him. Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune report.