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Connected By Their West African Lineage, Titans Teammates Chig Okonkwo and Sam Okuayinonu Discuss Their Journey to the NFL in Music City Football, Track 2


NASHVILLE – The second edition of Music City Football takes a look into the NFL journey for second-year Titans teammates Chig Okonkwo and Sam Okuayinonu, two players with African lineage.

The 11-minute feature, titled "Afrobeat", went live on Thursday night on Tennessee Titans YouTube channel.

There are more than 125 African-born or first-generation players in the NFL, including Okonkwo and Okuayinonu.

At the start of the episode, Okonkwo and Okuayinonu sit down with Director of Player Engagement Chic Ejiasi, whose parents are from Nigeria, for a dinner, and it spawns into a deeper dive into the personal lives of the two Titans.

Okonkwo, a tight end, discussed the impact his father's death had on him at a young age. Okonkwo was just 15 when his father died of a heart attack.

"In the Nigerian culture, I became the man of the house right then, at 15," Okonkwo said. "All I wanted to do was make sure my family was straight. … When my dad died, it opened my eyes to, Man, the world is real."

Okuayinonu, a native of Liberia, lived in the country until he was 12 years old, when he escaped the country's civil war.

"Growing up in Liberia, it was great," Okuayinonu said. "My mom and my grandmom, my grandmom worked really hard to get us into a comfortable place in Liberia. (Then) in 2003, the civil work broke out in my country, and it was a really tough time. A lot of kids didn't get to see their parents again.

"Me and my mom ended up getting separated during the war, and that was a tough time for me, because my mom is my best friend. She's my everything."

Okuayononu and his mom reunited after the war. Okuayinonu returned to Liberia in 2021.

Music City Football, which will air exclusively on YouTube, will include roughly four to six stories that will air into the fall.

The premier episode, which debuted in May, featured new Titans General Manager Ran Carthon.

"We have incredible access, and we feel like with that access, there's another level to the layer we can tell," said Surf Melendez, Vice President and Executive Creative Director for the Titans. "We're trying to create a closer connection with our fans, with our team, so they see things they don't normally get to see. We want to be close with our fans."

Also in the works:

-A feature on new Titans linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and his road to the NFL. A crew went to Tampa, Fla., to visit with Al-Shaair and his mother, showing his long journey, which included a time when he was homeless.

-A feature on Titans fan Colin Jones, a drummer in Circa Waves with a Middle Tennessee connection. Jones, who lives in London, is a big Titans fans who even named his son "Tennessee."

All the episodes will be roughly eight to 12 minutes.

"Every episode has its own story," said Michael Fertig, Producer, Video Content with the Titans. "We're trying to humanize our players, coaches, and members of the organization. We're trying to go beyond the podium, beyond what people see on a Sunday. We're trying to show these are real people with real lives, and they struggle with real things just like everybody else, but they're a part of this great organization."

Subscribe to the Tennessee Titans YouTube channel and never miss and episode of the Music City Football, presented by SeatGeek.

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