The first – and one of the biggest – offseason additions for the Washington Redskins in 2011 was the free agent signing of seventh-year veteran Oshiomogo Atogwe, who as a free safety is expected to significantly upgrade Washington’s secondary.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Atogwe is a ball-hawking free safety with good range and breaking speed, Atogwe is the last line of defense for Washington and has great familiarity with the team’s defensive schemes having played for Jim Haslett as a member of the St. Louis Rams from 2006-08.
Here’s your gameday Q&A:
Last week you played your first regular season game as a member of the Washington Redskins. What was that like?
“Oh, man, it was fantastic. I always liked playing at FedEx Field even when I was with the Rams because of the atmosphere. Whether they’re cheering for you or booing, it’s all the same to me. But it’s definitely better when they’re cheering for you. But it’s that environment that football’s supposed to be played in. It feels better that we got the win. That makes it even more memorable.”
What was the key to the defense being able to shut the Giants down in the second half?
“It’s always gratifying when you see the work that you put in bear fruit. A lot of things they did to us in the first half, they’re a good team, but it was more our mistakes and things we weren’t doing correctly. But once we sat down and got that stuff corrected, it was easy to make the adjustments to shut them down in the second half.”
At what point did you decide that you wanted to be a professional football player?
“I was 8. Once I started playing football, I knew it was for me. I loved the sport, and to me, there was nothing else for me to do. So I set my goals high and went after it.”
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, what was the team that you followed?
“Detroit Lions. I was a big Barry Sanders fan. Actually, 20 was the first number I wore in high school, so it feels good to be back in it.”
What has to happen for you this season for you to be able to say it was a successful year?
“Definitely the team playing well. We have high hopes and aspirations for what we can do as far as wins and loss column. Definitely, every year our goal is to make it to the Super Bowl. We believe we have the talent to do that, now it’s just making that talent gel enough to play at that level on a consistent basis. Me, personally, I have personal goals that I always set, but more success is going to be determined by how well and how disciplined I am in serving this team and serving on that field.”
What’s it like being Mike Singletary’s son-in-law and being part of such a football family?
“We definitely talk a lot. I wouldn’t say he trashtalks, but he definitely compares and contrasts the two eras – how it was back then to how it is now. Since he was a position coach, a head coach and a player, he has that perspective that someone else won’t have. And so, I sit and listen to him a lot. I love to hear him tell story about their Super Bowl run year, and even the year that they had a strike-shortened season, and just the mentality that he had as a player. He still has that mentality as a coach. So I learn a lot from him. We swap stories all the time. He’s just a great man to know.”
Was it intimidating to meet him?
“Yeah, for the first 15 seconds. But one thing you’ll know about Coach Singletary is, he’s very quiet, very soft-spoken, mild-mannered. So, how he is when he’s on the job, in the moment, is very different than how he is when he’s at home and you’re relating to him on a one-on-one basis. You wouldn’t even know it’s the same person. So that was very comforting for me, and it allowed me to relax and have one-on-one conversations with him.”
You have Incredible Hulk action figures and pictures set up in your locker. What’s that about?
“That’s just me. I believe when you’re off the field, you act a certain way, and then when you go on the field, you’re totally different. The things you do on the field, you can’t do in regular life. You’re not supposed to. But it’s all fair play when you get on the field.”
Were you a big Hulk fan as a kid?
“Big-time Hulk fan. I still am. I’ve collected comic books for over 20 years now.”
How many comic books do you have?
“Probably a couple thousand.”
How many figurines?
“Probably about 20 to 30.”
What’s the story behind your name?
“My name is Oshiomogho (oh-SHIM-ago), which means, ‘God knows the day, God knows my tomorrow.’ It’s Nigerian in nature. My grandmother actually gave me that name. It’s beautiful. In the Nigerian culture, the majority of their names all have a meaning to it, and it has to do with what was going on in that point in time in the parents’ and grandparents’ lives. It’s almost like a blessing before you’re even born. And to have this as my name, God, who is my Lord and savior, being in control of everything, it’s so fitting.”