Idonije a cut above

NFL lineman Israel Idonije says hard work and sacrifice can help you do anything you want in life....

NFL lineman Israel Idonije says hard work and sacrifice can help you do anything you want in life. (Winnipeg Sun File/John Woods)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Getting chopped from a football roster stings, which is why they call it getting cut.

The true test of a player's character is revealed shortly afterwards. One could feel sorry for himself and shrink away, while others work that much harder to prove the organization wrong.

Israel Idonije, in town this weekend for a charity find-raiser, falls into the second category and it makes his story special.

He's a big kid from Manitoba who was fortunate to break into the NFL with Cleveland in 2003.

Once the 6-ft. 6-in. defensive end secured a spot with the Browns, he injured his ankle.

Instead of waiting through rehab, the team said goodbye to Idonije, cutting him before he could get into a game.

Idonije will be participating in Henry Burris' All-Star Weekend, a fund-raiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary.

"It was tough to get cut from my first team," Idonije said. "Things don't always happen on your time but I was able to bounce back and stay positive. I was happy about that."

The Browns are kicking themselves now. Two great seasons with the Chicago Bears later, not only is the Brandon native safe from being cut, he was a hot commodity on the free-agent market.

Buffalo signed Idonije to an offer sheet this off-season, only to have the Bears match the four-year, $8-million deal.

"It feels good to be wanted," said the 25-year-old. "I'm glad I'm staying in Chicago. It was exciting. I wanted to be here and they wanted me to be part of what was going on."

Idonije has an ideal situation in Chicago. The Bears have a dominating defence led by linebacker Brian Urlacher.

With other stars such as Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher and Adewale Ogunleye on the Bears defence, Idonije should be on a competitive team for years to come.

"You learn a lot when you win but the biggest lessons are from defeats," Idonije said. "I got cut (by Cleveland) and worked twice as hard to get back. Look at where I am now. When you take blows like that, it builds your character."


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