Jerry Azumah (/əˈzmə/ ə-ZOO-mə; born September 1, 1977) is an American former professional football player who was a cornerback for seven seasons with the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the New Hampshire Wildcats, and was selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL draft.

Jerry Azumah
No. 23
Position:Cornerback,
Return specialist
Personal information
Born: (1977-09-01) September 1, 1977 (age 46)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:192 lb (87 kg)
Career information
High school:Saint Peter-Marian (Worcester, Massachusetts)
College:New Hampshire
NFL draft:1999 / Round: 5 / Pick: 147
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:352
Sacks:6.5
Forced fumbles:6
Interceptions:10
Total return yards:2,901
Total touchdowns:4
Player stats at PFR

Early life

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Azumah is the first-generation American son of Theophilus and Bertha Azumah, natives of Ghana. Azumah was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. At an early age, he played for the Worcester Vikings Pop Warner football team.[1] Azumah attended Saint Peter-Marian High School receiving football honors as a Central Massachusetts and Shriners All-Star.

Collegiate years

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Azumah attended the University of New Hampshire where he was a four-year starter on offense for Chip Kelly as an All-American tailback. One of the most decorated running backs in NCAA history, Azumah rushed for a national career-record 6,193 yards. At that time the only player in Division 1-AA history to rush for over 1,000+ yards four times.[2] In 1999, Azumah was the first recipient of the Jim Urquhart Student-Athlete of the Year Award. This annual award is bestowed upon UNH senior student-athletes who excel both in athletic competition and the classroom, in addition to possessing sportsmanship, great character, and passion for sports.[3]

He was Walter Payton Award recipient as the top offensive player in Division 1-AA football, while also earning honors as an unanimous All-American, All-Atlantic Ten Conference selection, and ECAC All-Star.[4]

In 2005, Azumah was inducted into the New Hampshire Wildcats Athletic Council Hall of Fame.[5]

NFL career

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Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
5 ft 10 in
(1.78 m)
195 lb
(88 kg)
29+78 in
(0.76 m)
8+78 in
(0.23 m)
4.54 s 1.56 s 2.63 s 3.86 s 6.90 s 43.5 in
(1.10 m)
11 ft 0 in
(3.35 m)
15 reps
All values from NFL Combine[6][7]

Azumah was selected by the Chicago Bears as the 147th pick of the 1999 NFL draft out of the University of New Hampshire.[8] In Azumah's first year with the Chicago Bears, he won the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award. This award is given to a Chicago Bear by his teammates. Brian Piccolo played four seasons as a running back for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1968. Piccolo died from cancer in 1970 when he was just 26 years old. The Chicago Bears created the Brian Piccolo award to honor a teammate's courage, loyalty, teamwork and dedication.[9]

Azumah, who was a running back in college, continued to make the transition into an NFL defensive back. As his NFL experience grew, he also saw time on special teams and special situations on defense. In 2001 Azumah was given a contract extension. On January 19, 2002, during the divisional playoff game versus the Philadelphia Eagles, Azumah intercepted then quarterback Donovan McNabb and returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown. That was the last touchdown scored in old Soldier Field.[10]

His best season came in 2003 when he led the league in kickoff returns with a twenty-nine-yard average and two touchdowns. In 2004, Azumah was selected to represent the NFC in the NFL Pro Bowl as a kick returner. In that game Azumah broke the record for return yards with 228.[11] He also recovered a fumble.

For Azumah's career, he appeared in 105 games with 48 starts. He had 384 tackles, 10 interceptions, 29 pass defense, 6.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and one recovery. Azumah retired in March 2006.[12]

Notable UNH teammates of Jerry Azumah are Jason Ball (San Diego Chargers), Dan Kreider (Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals) Randal Williams (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders) and Ryan Day (Ohio State Head Football Coach).

Post NFL career

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Azumah has been seen on the Chicago Bears post game coverage and commentary on WFLD-TV, Fox Chicago and appeared weekly on Fox Chicago's Good Day Chicago.[13] Azumah started his television broadcasting career on Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2006 as a post game analyst and feature reporter. Azumah also worked for ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago in 2010.[14]

Currently, Azumah can be heard on his new podcast titled "To the Points With Jerry Azumah." Azumah breaks down prime time NFL matchups and discusses his weekly betting strategy. The podcast is available for free on all streaming platforms.

Philanthropic activity

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Azumah became a board member of the University of New Hampshire Foundation in 2001. The Foundation builds private support for the University of New Hampshire. In the summer of 2003, Azumah donated a six-figure gift to the Foundation which was directed to the university's athletic department. The Jerry Azumah Performance Center was a direct result of Azumah's gift.[15] At age 25, Azumah became the youngest UNH alumnus to give a gift over $100,000.

In 2004 Azumah started the Azumah Student Assistance Program (ASAP). ASAP is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization and provides scholarships for disadvantaged students that attend private, secondary education. The program helps students in both Massachusetts and Illinois.[16]

As a retired member of the Chicago Bears Football Club, Azumah joined the Board of Directors of Bears Care in 2006, the philanthropic arm of the Chicago Bears. Currently, Azumah is serving as the president of Bears Care, which was founded in 1989 and supports youth athletics, education, medical research and treatment programs for breast and ovarian cancer.[17] In 2022, Azumah joined the Metropolitan Family Services Board of Directors. MFS's mission is to provide and mobilize the services needed to strengthen families and communities.[18]

In 2023, Azumah joined the board of Gilda's Club, which is a community organization for people with cancer, as well as their families and friends.

Personal life

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Azumah has two children (Santiago and Valentino) with his wife Bianca. The Azumah family currently resides in Chicago, IL.[19]

References

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  1. ^ Collins, Jim (November 24, 2011). "Jim Moore leaves winning mark on Vikings". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  2. ^ "UMass' Baylark 3rd I-AA rusher with 4 1,000-yard years". ESPN. October 29, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Ball and Clark Named Urquhart Student-Athletes of the Year". New Hampshire Wildcats. January 14, 1998. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  4. ^ "Jerry Azumah Breaks Another Record at the University of New Hampshire". New Hampshire Wildcats. March 2003. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013.
  5. ^ Morse, Dan (September 23, 2009). "Cat Trax: Worth the Weight". New Hampshire Wildcats. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  6. ^ "1999 Draft Scout Jerry Azumah, New Hampshire NFL Draft Scout College Football Profile". draftscout.com. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jerry Azumah, Combine Results, RB - New Hampshire". nflcombineresults.com. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  8. ^ "1999 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  9. ^ "Awards". Chicago Bears. Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  10. ^ Pucin, Diane (January 20, 2002). "Burden to Bear". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "AFC-NFC Pro Bowl records" (PDF). NFL. p. 5. Archived from the original (pdf) on September 6, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Pasquarelli, Len (March 24, 2006). "CB Azumah retires after seven seasons with Bears". ESPN. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  13. ^ "Bears' Azumah retires due to hip, neck pain". NFL. March 23, 2006. Archived from the original on April 5, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  14. ^ LaShawn, Jessica (May 16, 2011). "Jerry Azumah's ASAP Foundation Hosts Third Annual Signature Fundraiser". Chicago Now. Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  15. ^ "Athletic Facilities: Jerry Azumah Performance Center". New Hampshire Wildcats. Archived from the original on January 16, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  16. ^ "Azumah Student Assistance Program". ASAp Foundation. Archived from the original on February 17, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  17. ^ "Bears Care". Chicago Bears. Archived from the original on August 5, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "Board of Directors - Metropolitan Family Services".
  19. ^ "Life after football". Sea Coast Online. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
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