***This is the second in a series of three blog posts written by VOA intern Alex Hodge.
The National Football League’s Kickoff Game on September 6, 2018, will officially kick off a new season and showcase top wide receivers with ties to Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, with receiver Nelson Agholor, will host the Atlanta Falcons, who feature speedy receiver Mohamed Sanu.
The 25-year-old Agholor was born in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, and he caught nine passes for 84 yards in Super Bowl 52.
In that big game, the Eagles beat the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for their first Super Bowl title.
The 28-year-old Sanu, meanwhile, is the son of parents from Sierra Leone. During six seasons in the NFL, he’s caught 278 passes for 3,149 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.
Sanu and Agholor both represent the grit and toughness that African players bring to the NFL, along with size, strength and positive attitude.
Both players are hoping to stay in the league for a few more years, but they know long careers in the NFL require dedication and top conditioning.
Sanu has shared some of his workout drills on social media, and we can see a few here.
Mohamed Sanu, like Nelson Agholor, has played against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, but their memories are dramatically different.
In Super Bowl 51, the Falcons blew a 25-point lead to the Patriots and lost, 34-28, in overtime. Speaking a few days after the loss, Sanu said simply, “it hurts, it really hurts.”
With a new NFL season comes new hope, though, for the league’s 32 teams. Mohamed Sanu and Nelson Agholor are both hoping to help their teams advance to Super Bowl 53.
For Sanu and the Falcons, it would be especially sweet to reach the next Super Bowl, which will be played February 3, 2019, on Atlanta’s home field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In my next blog post, I’ll look at two more African players making an impact in the NFL.