Apparently “True North Strong and Free” the best-known nickname for Canada. It’s at least the most polite name that I’ve heard.
If Canada is America’s northern neighbor, then Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is the neighbor’s kid who spends more time at your house than his own. It’s been months since Atogwe went home, and even longer since he played football in Canada.
“It’s been since high school,” he said. “I’m excited to go back.”
Atogwe grew up in Windsor, Ontario, which is just outside of Detroit, Mich. Toronto is just outside of Buffalo, N.Y., 225 miles away.
Or in Canada, that would be 364 kilometers.
Despite the haul, it’s a lot closer than Washington or anywhere else that the Redskins will play this year, and Atogwe has lots of family and friends making the trek.
“I got about 40 people going to the game,” he said. With only 46,000 seats available at the Rogers Centre, that’s a fairly sizable chunk of the stadium that will be cheering him on.
The last time that Atogwe was in Toronto for a football game, was a high school football game 15 years ago. Back then, the field was an archaic form of turf, and the stadium was known as the SkyDome.
“It’s been a while ago now, so I don’t remember much. “It was always really nice. I’m definitely excited, but I’m just focused on the game aspect of it right now. I just need to focus on what I’m supposed to be doing in order to make sure this team wins.”
Despite being from Canada, Atogwe has some distinctly American features. He manages to finish sentences without adding “eh.” Also, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t spell words with the French spelling or say “aboot” when he means “about.” He was a four-sport athlete growing up, and none of them were ice hockey (football, basketball, soccer, and track). He freely admits that he doesn’t even know how to skate.
So maybe he’s more American than Canadian–except when the Canadian National Anthem is being played. Then his full Maple Leaf heritage comes out.
“Whoa whoa whoa,” he said. “I will be singing, but I think most of my teammates know the words too. They’ve made fun of me so much for it, that in the process, I think they’ve learned the words. But yeah, I’ll be belting it out on the sidelines.”
Being in Toronto will bring back some old memories for Atogwe, who traveled there a lot as a child.
“My family used to go probably three to four times every year, but I haven’t been in a long time,” he said “This past offseason was the first time that I had been in a long time.”
But clearly the razzing from his American teammates has gotten a little tired, because he’s not planning on playing Tour Guide Barbie while he’s there.
“What? Whoever told you that was lying” he said with a smile. “I’m not showing those bums anything.”