NFL Football: “Moe” Elewonibi
Though Mohammed Thomas David “Moe” Elewonibi was born in Lagos, Nigeria in December of 1965, the son of a Nigerian businessman and his Canadian wife, Elewonibi grew up on the tip of Vancouver Island in Victoria BC.
Elewonibi was a standout athlete at Victoria high school, lettering in basketball, soccer, rugby and track. Notably absent from that list is the sport that Elewonibi would make a career: football.
The epiphany would occur when Elewonibi was 20 years old and living in Kamloops with his mother. Stuck with a dead-end bouncing job, Moe decided it was time to pursue a higher education, if only to get his father off his back.
He chose Snow College in Ephraim, Utah off the advice of a friend who was already studying there.
It was at Snow College that Elewonibi first played the game of the football. Showing up at open try-outs, Moe became an offensive lineman thanks simply to a coin flip by the head coach.
Elewonibi would make the team, becoming one of the few Nigerian born players to ever play American college football, but would find college football fame only after transferring to Brigham Young.
It was there that Elewonibi won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman in 1989. The Washington Redskins selected Moe in the third round of the 1990 NFL Entry Draft, but a series of shoulder injuries and subsequent surgeries forced Elebowini to miss both the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
Elebowini earned a starting spot upon his return for the 1992 season, thanks in part to injuries ravaging the Skins offensive line that season.
For Elebowini, unfortunately, the injuries were not behind him. Shoulder problems again sidelined him for the 1994 season and after a brief comeback in 1995 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Moe was forced to retire from the NFL.
Elebowini found a place in the CFL the following year with the BC Lions, kicking off an 11 year CFL career split between the Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was named a CFL All-Star in 1998 and a CFL East All-Star in 2000.