Rogério Barbosa – Courtesy Montreal Alouettes
Uzooma Okeke started in the CFL with the Shreveport Pirates after a college career at Southern Methodist University. When the league folded its American teams, Okeke spent a year with the Ottawa Rough Riders before coming to the Alouettes in 1997 where he played until 2006.
He was part of the offensive line that helped Mike Pringle get 2,000 yards which still remains as the league’s record. He was a six time all-star and was the league’s top offensive lineman in 1999. He has been a scout with the Alouettes since his retirement.
“It’s a great honour for it to be in Montreal,” Okeke said. “Montreal is like a second home for me. My youngest daughter was born in Montreal so I love coming back and it’s a great city with great fans, great food and a great atmosphere.”
On the call from the Commissioner:
“It was unexpected. I heard rumours that I was nominated a couple of times but you never if it is actually going to happen. So I was sitting at the computer, doing some work and I get a call and he’s talking to me and he’s talking to me and asking ‘Are you alone? Is the door closed?’ And I was like ‘What? Who is this?’
I almost hung up because I didn’t know who it was. But he told he who he was and that I was inducted and I was thrilled. I couldn’t offer anything more than that.”
On whether he thought about the Hall of Fame during his career:
“You never thought about that. You were just thinking about trying to make yourself better and making your team better. Trying to win games. Trying to win championships. Once you retire, you maybe think about the Hall of Fame.”
On seeing his bust for the first time:
“[Big laugh] It was kind of crazy. I mean they did a great job. I can’t believe how good they can get it from a picture. I’m just amazed and honoured. That’s forever, now.”