Manitoba's Israel Idonije cut by NFL's Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have cut defensive lineman Israel Idonije.
Israel Idonije takes a drink during NFL football training camp. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

The Chicago Bears have cut defensive lineman Israel Idonije.

​The 33-year-old Idonije, who was born in Nigeria, grew up in Brandon, Manitoba.

He went on to play for the University of Manitoba Bisons and was named the 2002 Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year.

He was signed in 2003 as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns. He played for the Bears from 2004-2012 and the Detroit Lions in 2013.

The Bears brought him back by signing him to a one-year deal in March 2014.

 Idonije, who regularly returns for visits to Manitoba, is active in the community. He often goes to schools to promote his First Down program, which encourages kids to stay in school and offers prizes to those who maintain high attendance.

He was the Bears’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee in 2009 and 2010. The award is given annually by the NFL to honour a player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field.