STILLWATER -- Unfortunately, Amen Ogbongbemiga is known as much for his name and the difficulty that some sports announcers have in pronouncing it as he is for his outstanding play at linebacker. Last season he was one of the best players on defense in the Big 12 and formed as good a linebacker duo as the Cowboys have had in some time while teaming with Malcolm Rodriguez as both were over 100 tackles on the season and both were very disruptive for opposing offenses.
He is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree, was second-team All-Big 12 according to the league's coaches last season, and was voted by his teammates as a captain.
As good as he is on defense and the football field and as difficult as his name may be to say, Ogbongbemiga should be best known for his intelligence and his scope of understanding. Reporters that cover the Cowboys and have interviewed Ogbongbemiga on numerous occasions, like myself, know his sharp answers on questions and his opinions go beyond football.
It was no surprise to me on Sunday morning to see a Twitter message from Amen Ogbongbemiga that should be a must read for people as society deals with the horror, disgust, and absolute disappointment of the actions that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.
I felt compelled to write a story on Saturday about my first real experience of learning, getting to know, work together, and understand people my age of a different skin color, culture, background, and life experience. I just expressed, that thank God, it came through sports. The 70s were a volatile time in race relations, but because my experience came through sports, I had an experience that made me better for it. I got to know and appreciate, as teammates and friends, Raymond Turner, Kyle Woods, Billy Kelly. I learned firsthand some of what they dealt with in life, although it was impossible for me to know or understand all of it. Through sports, my mind and heart were opened.
This morning I read an email from a supervisor from our network that diminished stories written like mine. The point was this was a time to open our space to people of color, to the oppressed and those that feel as victims. I agree with that, but I also agree that any and all of us compelled to address this situation and the way people feel about relationships among different races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds should express our thoughts.
Any solutions, improvements, and understanding that will help our world and society must come from all and not just one group.
However, I do understand that the thoughts of a person that has never faced racial bias or inequality does not have the impact of someone that has. However, I've faced bias, dislike, and unfair treatment for reasons other than race. I would think virtually all of us have. People hate and refuse to understand for many reasons. When you are in the public eye, people chose to hate for seemingly no reason.
That said, Amen Ogbongbemiga is black. He is African-American and Canadian as well. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, live in Houston, Texas for eight-years and then in Calgary, Alberta, Canada before coming to Oklahoma State for school. He has lived many cultures and is a very intelligent, thoughtful, and talented young man. His voice and his thoughts are meaningful. They should be and need to be heard.
"When things of this nature occur, I tend to leave myself out if it to avoid unnecessary argument and confusion ... But anyone that knows me know that I carefully analyze situations from both perspectives to try to come up with a solution.
"In a world where there seems to be so much tension between people of opposite races, I have found myself to be fortunate enough to be in a profession where those barriers are broken on a daily basis. I have been blessed to be able to build relationships with people who I may never have got the chance to talk to due to us being in different social classes and I am sure the same goes for them. The profession that I include myself in has made it to where no matter what race you are, there is one common goal in mind and to achieve that goal you have to be able to assemble with people of all backgrounds.
"Throughout the many years that I have played football, I truly believe that has been done successfully and I have seen polar opposites come together to form a bond stronger than you could ever imagine. I just hope people that I have built relationships with can continue to educate their future children, who are the children of our future, to understand that at the end of the day we are all one. We are all the same and should be treated the same.
"Thankfully, a lot of teammates of mine have realized that because they have been blessed to participate in such a great sport that provides unity. I pray that one day people from all professions and people from all different backgrounds can realize the same."
Well said, the wisdom of youth will help us improve.
"When things of this nature occur, I try to leave myself out of it to avoid unnecessary argument and confusion ... but anyone that knows me knows that I carefully analyze situations from both perspectives to try to come up with a solution a