Nnamdi Asomugha pivots from star cornerback to star turn in soon-to-be-released film

For a while, Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL – a two-time first-team All Pro and three-time Pro Bowler with the Oakland Raiders, Asomugha was the premier free agent in the league in 2011, the year of the lockout.

A rushed free agent period once the lockout ended saw Asomugha sign with the Philadelphia Eagles for five years, $60 million, and suddenly the intense, quiet player who just did his job and wasn’t the stereotypical crowing corner became the symbol of all of the Eagles’ ills. Remember, Philly was supposed to be the “Dream Team” in 2011, according to Michael Vick, but wound up 8-8, and because of his big contract, fingers were pointed at Asomugha.

Less than three years later, he was out of the league.

But before he played his last game, with the San Francisco 49ers, Asomugha had already started laying the groundwork for his second act: in Hollywood.

Former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha’s second act, in Hollywood, is off to a stellar start. (AP)
Former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha’s second act, in Hollywood, is off to a stellar start. (AP)

In a profile by Bleacher Report’s Joon Lee, we learn that Asomugha has gotten off to quite the start in his new career. He plays a pivotal role in the movie “Crown Heights,” which won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will open in limited release in movie theaters this Friday.

In “Crown Heights”, which is based on real-life events, Asomugha plays Carl “KC” King, a Brooklyn man who devotes his life to fighting for his friend Colin Warner, who has been wrongfully accused of murder.

Asomugha had to speak with a Trinidadian dialect for the role, and for that and his performance overall, he’s getting rave reviews.

While his role in “Crown Heights” is Asomugha’s first in a major film, he’s had roles before. In 2009, as he filmed a Nike commercial, director Peter Berg took note that Asomugha was more than the usual, passable athlete-actor. A couple of months after the commercial shoot, Berg called him and offered a spot in Berg’s hit show, “Friday Night Lights.” Asomugha appeared in the Season 4 premiere as a police officer.

He has his own production company, Iam21, and has written screenplays and acted in his own short film. In addition to “Crown Heights,” Asomugha had another film at Sundance, “Patti Cake$,” which he helped finance and sold for $9.5 million at the festival.

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Actor Tony Goldwyn, who works with Asomugha’s wife, Kerry Washington, on the hit show “Scandal,” told Rich Eisen on Eisen’s radio show that Asomugha’s success isn’t common.

“I’m a little jealous of Nnamdi,” Goldwyn said. “This year at the Sundance Film Festival, he had two films. He just got into the movie business. One he starred in. … The other film he produced and sold for a big chunk of money. That doesn’t happen to anybody.”

The entire profile is worth your time, as Asomugha and his friend and former Eagles teammate, Jason Babin, talk about that period in Philadelphia, when things went so poorly for Asomugha and he was blamed so completely for the team’s struggles that he was dubbed the worst free-agent signing in league history.

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