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1985 Bears Coverage: Bucs' kicking drama replay of Bears' tale

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Bucs’ kicking drama replay of Bears’ tale

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Sept. 5, 1985

The strange saga of how Tampa Bay decided on its placekicker this summer looked like an African version of the Bob Thomas-Kevin Butler affair.

The Bucs have settled on Nigerian Donald Amechi Igwebuike, who beat out countryman Obed Chukwuma Ariri.

Igwebuike attempted no field goals during the pre-season and converted only three of four extra points. Ariri, the incumbent, made his only pre-season three-point attempt and all four extra-point tries.

But Igwebuike got the nod because, like Bear rookie Kevin Butler, he has a stronger leg than the more consistent Ariri.

If Bob Thomas feels bad about being temporarily unemployed, consider Ariri. He and Igwebuike were childhood friends in Nigeria. And it was Ariri who persuaded Igwebuike to follow him to Clemson on a soccer scholarship. Then Ariri talked Igwebuike into trying football placekicking.

Ariri broke several Tampa Bay placekicking records last year. But when the Bucs drafted Igwebuike on the 10th round last spring, the two friends were suddenly professional enemies.

Their training camp duel was best summed up by the English translation of their middle names. Chukwuma (Ariri) means “God only knows” in Nigerian. Amechi (Igwebuike) translates to “You can’t predict tomorrow.”

Igwebuike and Butler hooked up in a memorable kicking showdown last year in a 26-23 Georgia victory. Igwebuike kicked a 48-yarder, his third of the game, to tie it with two minutes to play. Butler answered moments later with a game-winning 60-yarder, his fourth of the day.