Omi

We heard you wanted a water so we hope this is alright.

I don’t drink so this is perfect. I gotta hydrate, I’m in training camp!

We’re torn about your move to the Detroit Lions because we actually grew up in Detroit.

You’re not torn. We’re officially with Detroit now, I’m takin’ ya’ll with me!

How do you think the league has changed since you first started your NFL career?

Going into now my 11th season, the game has changed in that when I first started the rules were different. You could have a three-man wedge, the amount of violence was different. The game will always be a violent game, it’s a physical game but there is a lot more regulation now in order to keep guys safe. Every year the guys get bigger, they get faster so to limit those collisions the commissioner and the NFLPA are trying to make it a safer game. Guys understand the risk of what they are about to be apart of so it’s important that we play within the rules and take care of everyone out there now.

In your comic book, “The Protectors”, you talk about overcoming obstacles. What was the biggest struggle for you as a kid?

I was fortunate to come from a great family system and a stable family. Although we weren’t wealthy and we struggled financially, we always had a lot of the necessities of life so it’s really more about staying motivated, staying focused and learning the details of success. A lot of times when you’re challenged at a young age you just want to quit. There were times when I wanted to walk away like, “I don’t want to do this,” but my mother would be like, “First of all, you’re not a quitter. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to do this.” It’s about teaching the goals, the skills and the values to be successful. In the real world there are challenges, we all face challenges. The people who make it and succeed are the people who understand how to get up and how to work through those challenges. 

The story follows a group of athletes who have been given superhero talents off the field. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

If I could have a power it would be precognition. I’d want to be able to know what was going to happen before it happened and be a step ahead of everyone else.

The Israel Idonije Foundation has benefited thousands of children in Chicago since 2007. What do you attribute to its success?

I think ultimately it starts with the support and people that I’ve been fortunate enough to build relationships with. The person I am today started because they mentored me and that’s the reason the charity has been successful. It’s about that kid in that neighborhood who needs that inspiration, who needs that support.

The charity is dedicated to teaching youth the skills they need to pursue their dreams. Do you try and set realistic goals?

You start with the approach that anything is possible. The goal is to shoot for as far and as high as you can and then be willing to put in the work to get there. At the end of the day when all is said and done and you look around you and see where you are and what you’ve achieved, you may not be where you thought you would be but you’re so much further than you would have been otherwise. I think it’s important you set the biggest goal, you shoot for the biggest star and then when you are settled and have achieved success you say, “Wow, I made it further than I ever would have dreamt or imagined.”

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What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Steal candy as a kid? Do you ever swear?

What’s the worst thing I’ve ever done? First of all, I’m far from perfect. I try to stay away from using foul language. As for taking candy, absolutely! I’m far from perfect.

What are you going to miss most about Chicago?

I’m not gonna miss anything, I’m still here! Detroit literally is our neighbor. I’m going to start and be a part of the team and be focused on excelling at my job then when things are over my mom is here, my network is here and my business is here.

Are you a Blackhawks fan?

100 percent!

How is that going to go over in Detroit?

I know, I know! But I’ll always be a Hawks fan. Top to bottom, I love the Hawks.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

I’m a Michael Jackson fan. If I do anything, if I’m working out or if it’s pre-game I always listen to Michael Jackson so it’d be something Michael Jackson.

When you’re in a bad mood what’s your pick-me-up? Calling a funny friend, comfort food?

If I’m in a bad mood I like to just get away, relax and kind of unplug. I wouldn’t call someone if I was in a bad mood but if I were to call somebody it would be Anthony Adams, my former teammate who is probably one of the funniest people on this planet. Even when you don’t want to laugh you’re like, “Listen! I don’t want to laugh, get away from me!” You’re laughing but you’re still upset like, “Anthony, get out of here!” so he’s always great. If you’re in a bad mood, food is always helpful. I love chocolate.

Are you a milk or dark chocolate person?

I’m a milk chocolate guy. I’ve been trying to do the dark chocolate thing because it’s supposed to be better for you but it’s just not the same. Even the milkiest dark chocolate doesn’t compare.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Michael Jordan. I would love to just hang out with Michael Jordan.

Chicago BearsChicago BearsNEAL AGUSTIN PHOTOGRAPHY

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Omi