CJ Okoye, a Nigerian athlete who was signed by the Chargers as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, recorded a sack in the first football game of his life during Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams.
Okoye took down Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett, thrilling the Chargers’ sideline, as teammates who know how far Okoye has come celebrated his accomplishment.
“It’s a historic performance,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “This guy, as you guys know, his story is remarkable. The International Pathway Program, this guy’s never played in a game. For him to go in his first NFL game to have a sack, our guys said if he gets a sack we were going to get a 15-yard [celebration penalty]. You saw that sideline, that’s what the NFL’s about, great stories like that. Game ball for CJ and a memorable moment for our whole team.”
Okoye is still a long shot to make the 53-man roster and get a regular spot in the defensive line rotation, but he seems likely to at least make the Chargers’ practice squad this year, and he may have a future in a sport that’s still new to him.