2012 London Olympian Discus tosser Lawrence Okoye and 2006 World Junior Champion Margus Hunt have signed with National Football League Organizations. Okoye Signed with the San Francisco 49’ers while Hunt will play for the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers are coming off a Super Bowl Loss while the Cincinnati Bengals lost early in the playoffs.
The young duo will join NFLers with throwing backgrounds such as the Cleveland Browns’ Joe Thomas and the Minnesota Vikings’ Brian Robinson, among others…fellow historical throwers in the NFL include Michael Carter, Jack Torrance, Ron Dayne, among others. It is unclear whether throwing will play any part in the future of either Hunt or Okoye’s future.
Born in London to Nigeian parents Lawrence dabbled in playing junior rugby before deciding to go all in for a bid at the 2012 London Olympics. Lawrence’s father-Lawrence Senior-like his son came to America to play football with no prior experience at the University of Nebraska as a defensive end, Lawrence is an excellent student having being accepted to Oxford University to read law-he seems to be a man on a mission to see how far he can push himself psychologically and physically.
Margus Hunt is an Estonian born athlete and is 4 years Okoye’s senior-Hunt became interested in athletics because ‘there wasn’t much to do’ and later found a home throwing the shot put and discus. After accepting a scholarship to throw at SMU the men’s track and field program was cut, however, Hunt found a way to stay in the states by joining the football team where legend grew of the strength of his legs. Due to his excellent college career playing football Hunt was drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft in 2013 while Okoye was signed as an undrafted free agent. The 49ers have a history with Olympic throwers as they housed 1984 silver medalist Michael Carter (who, like Hunt, attended SMU).
Professional football leagues of America have been corralling it’s best athletes for the better part of a century now and it seems their grasp is now going global. Half a century ago elite athletes would have the opportunity to participate in many sports but with the specialization and capital to be gained in today’s economy track and field is no match for such leagues as the NFL, NBA, etc. Okoye and Hunt will make more in one year than they would in careers as professional throwers. Their careers will potentially last a fraction of that as compared to if they had chosen track and field but with all the added incentives it’s hard not to understand their thinking. The real thing to question is what effect this will have on professional athletics globally at the individual and organizational levels.
The young duo will undoubtedly be swamped by interviews for the next half-decade and the question to be asked, shouldn’t be about what they have or are going to have but rather if it were to be all taken away…no fame…no house…no money…no other people around but them in a void with a football on the left and a discus on the right….which one would they pick up?