Tayo Fabuluje and the Importance of Character In A Champion

fid12667Chicago-Bears-Logo2Like many, I watched the 2015 draft unfold with great interest. It was fascinating to watch the soaring success of a Marcus Mariota (including a reported effort of my Chicago Bears to unload Jay Cutler on the Tennessee Titans in exchange for their second slot — and Mariota). It was equally fascinating to watch the plunge of Randy Gregory from a top draft pick to number 60 after showing himself incapable to not doing drugs even when his entire NFL career and future depended on it. However, while the Winstons, Mariotas, and other elite players tend to get the limelight, I was rooting for a guy picked by the Bears in the final round. I was rooting for Tayo Fabuluje. There is no reason that you would know his name but I hope someday you will.

The Chicago Bears have traditionally gone with the best player strategy as opposed to a need strategy as vividly shown this year with the selection of only one defensive line starting player despite our desperate need on defense with the shift to a 3-4 team. The Bears have also tended to avoid players with character problems in the draft as shown by our pass on Gregory – emphasizing character with talent in players. Most of the excitement in Chicago’s draft (which was given overall high-grades for its draft choices this year) was Kevin White who will replace Brandon Marshall (my favorite player who was traded to the Jets). White has the makings of a real game changer. However, on character, one player stood out to me: Fabuluje. I was delighted that he was selected as our final draftee.

Fabuluje is a huge offensive lineman at 6’7″ and 330 ponds. His size obviously was a plus (though it can be a liability since he has reportedly ballooned 390 in the past) However, his resume is very very short. The reason is that Fabuluje gave up football for a year to return to Utah in 2013 to support his older sister, Tosin, when their mother, Debra, went to prison for multiple petty theft crimes. He held down three jobs to support his family. His father was deported to Nigeria after participating in a truck theft ring and is no longer part of the family. This kid did not just abandon his family for his career. He gave up everything (college, football) to do the right thing. He was the man of the family at 5 when his father was deported and he says that his mother turned to crime to support the family.

While working there jobs at Michael Kors, Sprint and Champs Sports, Febuluje took classes at BYU. He then returned to TCU in his final year.

Now that is character. I really hope that Febuluje keeps his weight under control and finds a way on the field for the Bears. If the Bears’ oft-stated belief that character makes a player is true, we have a diamond in the rough in Tayo Febuluje.

Source: Bears

13 thoughts on “Tayo Fabuluje and the Importance of Character In A Champion”

  1. Isaac, Boxing was called “the sweet science” by a Brit scribe in the 1800’s. George Chuvalo had the toughest chin ever. Never knocked out or even knocked down. Saw his fights w/ Ali and also against Ernie Terrell and Jimmy Ellis.

    You made my day w/ an homage to baseball. I love Billy Beane and what he does w/ no payroll year in and out.

  2. Nick

    Boxing is a world of sports in of itself. It ranges from the George Chevalo slugger to the Ali tactician. That’s why they call it the ‘beautiful science’, or at least I think that’s what some call it. Boxing takes a hunger that comes not only in training but in the practice of it. I don’t follow boxing much anymore but I used to. It is still the pinnacle of the one on one sports, with tennis second.

    I love Baseball. It is a combination of the most concentrated moment with the most stretched out strategy available. My team is the Oakland Athletics, mostly, if not all because of Billy Beane. Baseball is a sport that depends maybe more on the coach and general manager than on the players. The genius of the Florida Marlins the two years they won the World Series is putting a guy like I Rod in with a team of rookies and odds and ends. He galvanized the team. He had played close to the top and was both under rated and unsupported in the world of super stars like that bum A Rod. When I lived in the Bay Area for 14 years we went to 20 to 25 games a year, mostly at the Coliseum. I watched Mulder, Hudson, and Zito beat the Yankees every Friday night they came for a series. 45 thousand As fans screamed the 15 thousand Yankee fans straight out of the park. The As routinely matched and sometimes beat out the Yankees on one third the money.

    There are lots of aspects to sports. Baseball is the most convoluted but it still remains pure and must be much the same picnic that it was a hundred years ago. We took our own beer, peanuts, gourmet sandwiches, etc in and had a blast for two-three-and sometimes more hours. It is the only game that provides that total afternoon experience.

    Rugby is a great sport to watch but as you said, one must understand it. Google the New Zealand All Blacks Haka and get an idea of what physical intensity is.

    I used to like American Football but its simply too hard to watch. I would rather play poker, drinking too much and eating too much of the wrong stuff than watch ‘the game’.

  3. Good luck to Mr. Fabuluje with Da Bears. He is already a success in my book.

  4. Lots of words, but you do not speak to the qualities of boxers. I get your derision of football. We Americans are different than the rest of the world. Viva la difference, no?? I guess not in your mind. I get that soccer is the biggest sport in the world. I don’t like soccer, but feel no compulsion to deride it. I get most people think baseball is a nothing sport. They have never tried to hit a 100 mph fastball, the MOST DIFFICULT thing to do in sports. But, I truly understand how most people don’t get baseball. You see Isaac, I UNDERSTAND that when people don’t get a sport, it’s almost always because they don’t understand it or know little about it. And, the best way to understand a sport is to have played it. I played baseball [quite well] and coached it for 30 years. I played only high school football[starter, but average offensive lineman]. So, I understand those sports well.

    Back to boxing that you studiously avoided. Many people who do not like boxing have a class problem. You see, you can trace immigration to this country by the great boxers of different eras. Boxing is a BRUTAL sport. And, you must be hungry, literally, to pursue it. Irish, Jews, Italians, Hispanic boxers are from eras when they were new to this country, and poor. Blacks span all eras because they are hungry and poor through decades. Yes, most are uneducated. Yes, some are stupid. But, there is no higher % of stupidity than there is in any other sport. Unlike elitists, I do not equate education w/ intelligence. To be a great boxer you must be intelligent, the first quality you list. The second quality you list, endurance. LOL! Only soccer is in the same category of boxing when it comes to endurance. Obviously, baseball is @ the end of the list. Fitness. Come one, have you ever seen a great boxer train. I watched Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns train for their classic fight in 1985. Hagler trained like the blue collar he is, downtown Vegas in a funky gym. Hearns trained @ Caesars Palace w/ a big entourage. The fight has come to be known as The War. It only lasted 3 rounds but is considered one of the greatest fights ever.

    We will agree to disagree w/ football. You don’t get it, so you choose to deride. it. I don’t get soccer. My son was a good soccer player. I watched MANY games. i still don’t get it. But, I don’t dismiss it. So.. boxing, talk to me about boxing. You pretty much ignored it in your comment. Tell me why it does not appear on your list of sports that require “intelligence, endurance and fitness.” I think those are indeed qualities of great athletes. What about courage? Stepping into a ring w/ a great Marvin Hagler, stepping into a batters box against Aroldis Chapman, takes COURAGE.

    Finally, I am not a “love it or leave it” guy. I point out Americas flaws all the time. I simply KNOW this is where people want to live and that has been the case for centuries. So, despite our flaws, this is the country that people want to live. This is where you chose to live. We are different. That’s what makes us great.

  5. Nick

    My perceptions are based on sports, not nationalities. You might focus more on your knee jerk defensiveness. No, America is not stupid. Some things America does are stupid. Most things are brilliant and therein lies the conundrum. The success of the brilliance gets confused with the stupid and in most ‘Nationalistic Extremists’ qualifies the stupid. As in, ‘Love it or leave it.’ ‘If you like it so much, why don’t you move there?’ etc.

    As far as my knowing something, nothing, anything, I know what I know, that I don’t know, etc. My opinion on American Football is my opinion only. It is between me and American Football. I did place Basketball on the list of true sports. I don’t much enjoy Basketball but aside from the sometimes freakish heights of some of the players, it does represent an average person performing exceptional athletic skills for a prolonged period of time: talent, endurance, discipline, etc. Football has this but less and less. More and more, football is becoming a circus. There was a time, in America, when football was a sport in the same league with soccer, rugby, hockey, basketball….

    So, read more carefully and drop your guard. I applaud what I see as worthy of applause, anywhere in the world. I ‘dis’ what I see as not worthy of applause, anywhere in the world. And, I speak my mind about stuff like American Football. There are some really goofy European sports, like Handball.

    Regarding track, boxing, and all the other sports that are, perhaps, the most pure, they are, unfortunately not circus like enough to gain the audiences they deserve. Except for boxing, but there again it is the circus element that weighs in there. Not too many people watch a boxing match unless there is the hype of a Merryweather – Paquino moment.(sp?) For me, an athlete involves a mixture of intelligence, endurance, fitness, and something special as found in guys like Gretzky, Nash, Richard, Howe, and Boom Boom Geoffrion, and a few Americans of course.

  6. Reminds me a lot of “Big Cat” Williams. Low round draft pick (Big Cat was un-drafted), not much experience, but great physical attributes. The Bears tried Big Cat on defense briefly, then trained him up for O line. He bounced around the line and was inactive for a while, but he finally was set as our starting left tackle, a position he held for the next eight years. I believe he even made the Pro Bowl.

    Williams also won the Brian Piccolo award (the Bears “Man of the Year” award).

  7. I guess President Obama is not American after all m.youtube.com/watch?v=cQcd41RO25k

  8. Isaac, HBO Real Sports did a good piece on the morbidly obese football players, primarily offensive lineman, and their lives after playing. As you would expect, their lives are quite short.

    Regarding your European view of sports and all things American, we get it, America is stupid. And, your prejudice is shown in the list of sports you provided. I will give you a pass on not including track, since it is not a professional sport per se. But, I grew up in a boxing family. My uncle Nick was a superb lightweight boxer before WW2. I have a friend who is in the boxing equipment business and trains amateur and professional boxers .I know a great amateur boxer who should be our next Olympic heavyweight this year, Cam Awesome. I know, weird choice of names. He is a vegan heavyweight, not your typical guy.To not include boxers on that list, maybe near the top, shows your bias. Professional boxing has declined primarily thanks to Bob Arum and Don King. But, boxers are INCREDIBLE athletes. Maybe the best athletes. They changed the sport when they lowered championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds. 15 rounds is something 99% of the public are clueless as to just how conditioned you must be to fight another champion. 12 rounds made it more safe, so many bad injuries occurring in rounds 13-15. Please don’t spew your usual lame sarcasm. I know, you know, little if anything about boxing. History has shown when you are ignorant about something, you attack the opponent w/ snark. Surprise me, acknowledge you don’t know something. People w/ true self esteem do that all the time.

  9. There is something of a circus aspect to American Football. Big kids are encouraged to get bigger to play the almost freak show line positions. If an athlete was 6’7″ and 300 lbs of well balanced muscle, organs, and skeleton, that would be one thing. However, most of these guys are as strong as they can be to move a hundred lbs of fat around as a battering ram or maneuver as an obstacle. The old game of football which depended almost entirely on agility and speed has now, in the area of the line, been replaced with not much more than mass.

    I grew up with players playing more than one or two plays before jogging to the side lines for a rest and water. In today’s games a player runs to catch a pass and then takes a break. Watch a Rugby game sometime for a real sport.

    With the constant intermissions to play and posing, Football is becoming a circus. One waits most of the time for a glimpse of something extreme and is more often than not disappointed. It is easy to watch, however, like a circus with the ‘ringmasters’ whooping up the crowd, the ‘countdown’ to the big display, and the color and pageantry. It seems that this is the allure of football so watch for it to get even more circus like and less like the sport it once was. Wait for the first 400lb lineman, imported from some South Pacific Island, with a degree in media consulting from any one of a hundred universities, to thud onto the field. “In the center ring, Ladies and Gentlemen……”

    For athleticism in sports: Rugby, Soccer, Basketball, Hockey; Baseball is the best ‘Picnic’ sport and Football is almost nothing more than a circus.

    One could also draw an analogy to war, with the agile but fragile runners scurrying in and around the tanks, but then sports are war or a substitute for war, as they have always been.

  10. What a heartwarming story. Diamonds like this kid can form under the pressure of having horrible parents. When I evaluate someone, the first thing I look @ is their heart. If someone has a good heart, that usually overcomes whatever flaws they may have. We are all flawed. But those w/ a good heart are the ones who shine like this young man. We will truly see his heart when he is assigned to protect that dogass, Cutler.

  11. da Bears need Felize Navidad who is a tight end from Sintur Klaus University in Holland. Felize is a female who works the Red Light District and they don’t call her “Tight End” for nothing. She used to be gay but she came out at Christmas.

  12. Even at 330 he is a little heavy. At 390 I would be surprised he could get off the line. He would have constant knee problems. I am sure his contract will have weight clauses in it. I do wish him the best of luck.

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