Lawrence Okoye wheeled his Olympic dreams eight years ago to start a nomadic NFL career with the 49ers. It did not work out so well, nor did his return to the Olympics on Friday.
Okoye failed to register a qualifying point in his three throws in the discus for Great Britain at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Okoye, 29, finished 12th at his London Olympics in 2012, before joining the 49ers as a defensive lineman who had never played American football. The then coach, Jim Harbaugh, was amazed at Okoye’s 6-foot body and said, “He’s just an Adonis. Just a wonderful physical example of a man. Our creator created a beautiful man.”
He was never a beautiful football player.
Okoye was a pet project of Jim Tomsula, who was the coach of the defensive line before replacing Harbaugh as the 49ers coach in 2015. Tomsula’s roots in NFL Europe gave him the perfect experience for mentor Okoye, who praised Tomsula’s promotion in 2015 and remarked: ‘I’m so happy for him. Without him, I would not have been in the league. ”
A minor knee problem kept him on an injury list in 2013, and he was in the training group in 2014. After the 49ers lost two of their leading defensive lines – Justin Smith and Ray McDonald – in the 2015 season, Okoye has a golden opportunity to get a list of a bad team, but he cut before the season.
He joined the Arizona Cardinals until he was cut in October 2015 after ordering coach Bruce Arians’ parking spot.
Okoye has moved from team to team for the next three years – New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Montreal in the Canadian Football League, Birmingham in the Alliance of American Football.
In formal interviews or conversations at the closet of his 49ers, Okoye became intelligent, determined and humble, yet confident. He wanted to excel with the chance against him.
Unfortunately, the success of football eluded him, as did the Olympic excellence.