Steve Atwater Stops Christian Okoye
The Chiefs’ Christian Okoye, lightning fast and a bruising 260 pounds, was a feared and punishing Pro Bowl running back nicknamed “The Nigerian Nightmare.” The Broncos’ Steve Atwater, known as “The Smiling Assassin,” was a 6-3, 220-pound Pro Bowl free safety famous for his devastating hits. On September 17, 1990, during an AFC West showdown at Denver’s Mile High Stadium on Monday Night Football, the two men’s careers would collide – literally and with crushing force. Okoye, who had gained 1,480 yards the previous season, took a handoff and broke loose in the backfield – and was headed toward Atwater with a head of steam. Atwater, unfazed and approaching at full speed himself, lowered his shoulder and hit Okoye with a power that sent Okoye staggering backward and onto the ground. The Broncos won the game 24-23. Atwater, who was 23 and in his second NFL season, played nine more seasons in the league and would continue to be remembered for that hit. Okoye, meanwhile, retired two seasons later.