Israel Idonije (FB | Student-athlete)
NAME: Israel Idonije
YEARS ACTIVE: 1998-2002
Canada West All-Star and All-Canadian (2001 & 2002)
CIS most outstanding down lineman in 2002
First Bison to play in the NFL (149 games played)
No. 70 retired by Manitoba in 2016
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in Brandon. Man., defensive end Israel Idonije started playing football in Grade 12 before an outstanding career with the Manitoba Bisons football team, and eventually the NFL.
Idonije was a Hardy Cup champion in 2001, as the Bisons went on to play in the Vanier Cup, before eventually falling to Saint Mary's in the national title game.
A two-time Canada West All-Star and First Team All-Canadian in both 2001 and 2002, Idonjie won the J.P. Metras Trophy as CIS football's outstanding down lineman in 2002 when he led Canada West with nine sacks. Following his university career, he was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Bowl, where he caught the eyes of NFL scouts.
In 2004, Idonije made the Chicago Bears roster and was the first Bison to play in the NFL. He spent nine seasons with the Bears, and in February 2007, became just the third Canadian university player to appear in a Super Bowl, with the Bears in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
After 2013 with the Detroit Lions, Idonije retired from the NFL with career totals of: 149 games (50 starts), 283 total tackles, 29 sacks, six fumble recoveries, eight blocked kicks, plus one touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Since 2007, the Israel Idonije Foundation has helped communities in Winnipeg, Chicago and West Africa through numerous initiatives provided on a year-long basis.
Idonije was a 2010 finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes volunteer and charity work, as well as excellence on the field. In 2013, he received the All Sports United Humanitarian Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy and was awarded the Daily Point of Light Award, for community volunteer service, by President Barack Obama and former President George Bush during a ceremony at the White House.
In 2014, Idonije became the first former Bison student-athlete to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Manitoba. That year he was also inducted into the Order of Manitoba and received Manitoba’s honour in a ceremony at the Legislature in Winnipeg from Prince Charles. He has been presented with Honourary Citizenship by the City of Winnipeg and received a key to the City of Brandon.
In 2016 his No. 70 became the first number retired in Bisons football history.