GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – “56…you’re going in.” That’s what first-year football player Kenneth Odumegwu heard on the sidelines of the Packers-Bengals game on Friday. When Odumegwu took the field, it was the first time he’d ever played in an organized football game.
“The whole team was like ‘yeah!’ Aaron Jones, I mean everybody came up to me…they were asking me ‘what’s your sack dance?'” Odumegwu said. Though he didn’t record a sack in the game, his performance did catch the eyes of his coach.
Following Green Bay’s 36-19 win over Cincinnati, in which Odumegwu played 12 defensive snaps and two on special teams, he was presented a game ball by Matt LaFleur.
“Typically, we don’t give out game balls post-game, but he did get a game ball. I thought that was worthy of it. First ever game. The guys have really rallied around him and supported him,” LaFleur told media on Sunday.
“It was a surreal moment for me. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even say thank you to coach,” the first-year linebacker said while smiling.
Odumegwu has been suiting up in the Green and Gold this summer as a part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. Odumegwu has a chance to make the team’s 53-man roster, but if he does not, Green Bay can keep him all season thanks to a roster exemption.
“My goal for this season is to develop as much as possible, to be a better football player overall. So that next season, people will ask me ‘What college did you go to?'” Odumegwu is the Packers’ first international player through the IPP. He grew up playing basketball in Nigeria and participated in the NFL Africa Touchdown Camp in Ghana.
As far as his first game ball, Odumegwu said it’s back in his room. While laughing, he added, “No one is going to touch it.”