Odafe Oweh: You're Going to Have to Learn My Name

OLB Odafe Oweh

Odafe Oweh isn't going to make it easy for NFL offensive linemen, and he isn't going to change his first name to make it easy for you either.

One of the best moments of Oweh's first call with the Ravens media Thursday night was when he corrected reporters on the pronunciation of his first name.

Oweh went by his middle name of Jayson throughout his college career at Penn State, but he now wants to be called by his first name of Odafe (uh-DAH-fay).

"People were having trouble pronouncing Odafe, so I went to Jayson my earlier years, but I don't care anymore," Oweh said. "You're going to have to learn how to pronounce it."

Oweh grew up in New Jersey, but both of his parents are from Nigeria. His father, Henry, was born in Nigeria and his mother, Tania, moved there when she was 7. He still has a lot of family living in Africa.

"I'm fortunate to be over here and really reap the benefits of being an American and having the opportunity," Oweh said on Glenn Clark Radio, "But I can't see that for everybody in Nigeria, and I just want to give them an opportunity to showcase and display all their talents."

Former Chiefs All-Pro running back Christian Okoye was the first of several Nigerian players to make it in the NFL. He was a second-round pick in 1987 and nicknamed the "Nigerian Nightmare." Some of the more prominent current players include Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor and Lions defensive end Julian Okwara. Past recent players also include offensive tackles Russell Okung and Osi Umenyiora.

There's a growing number of native-born and first-generation Africans in the NFL. There are several other pass rushers in this year's draft class whose parents immigrated from Nigeria: Georgia's Azeez Ojulari, Texas' Joseph Ossai, Vanderbilt's Temidayo "Dayo" Odeyingbo, Notre Dame's Adetokunbo "Ade" Ogundeji and Duke's Chinweoke "Victor" Dimukeje (grew up in Maryland, went to Boys' Latin).

Now they'll all have a chance to make a name for themselves in the NFL and proudly represent their heritage while they're at it.

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