DALLAS TX - FEBRUARY 04: Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award finalist Israel Idonije of the Chicago Bears speaks during a press conference at the Super Bowl XLV media center on February 4 2011 in Dallas Texas. The Green Bay Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears have had quite a few class act's on their roster through the years. Unfortunately it's usually the few players with questionable character that end up getting the majority of the coverage. It's just human nature to want to see a train wreck, and some of the knuckleheads that have passed through Halas Hall fit that bill. But let's put those fools in our rear view mirror and focus on a truly good guy that plays in Chicago right now. Israel Idonije.
Idonije, otherwise known as Izzy, was an undrafted free agent that had to fight for his spot in the NFL. In 2003 he was signed by Cleveland, then waived by Cleveland, he ended up on the Bears practice squad later that year. He worked his way up from the practice squad, had a stint in NFL Europe, then to the Bears special teams, he worked his way to Chicago's d-line rotation (end, tackle, end, tackle...), and now he's the starting left defensive end for the Bears.
In 2007 he was given the Key To The City of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and inducted into the Order Of The Buffalo Hunt. The latter an honor he shares with Mother Theresa, Queen Elizabeth, and the Dalai Lama. In 2008 he won the JB Award for community service. Izzy was the Ed Block Courage Award recipitent in 2009. In 2010 he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year and in February of this year he received the "Bear of the Year" award from Comcast Sportsnet.
Izzy started the Israel Idonije Foundation to help "families and individuals in economically disadvantaged communities". Through his foundation he took a number of students to the White House. He goes to Africa every off season to work with underprivileged communities, he holds football camps and fund raisers, he helps feed people at Thanksgiving and helps with gifts at Christmas time with the "Shop with a Cop" program.
Israel Idonije is the very definition of "Class Act". Chicago is fortunate to have a man like Izzy in the community.