NFL's Israel Idonije creates comic book series for a good cause

CHICAGO - NFL players are always superheroes to their fans. But a former Chicago Bear is taking that idea to a new level, making a difference off the field too.

Israel Idonije is best known as a lineman for the Bears. Now a free agent, he's self-publishing his own comic books.

Idonije loved comic books when he was a kid, and he thinks they're a great first step in getting kids to crack open a book.

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Israel Idonije is shown at work on a comic book for his "Protectors" series.
CBS News

What does he say to critics who say comic books aren't real reading?

"I don't say anything, I body slam them!" he laughed.

Idonije says football enabled him to pursue other dreams, including helping kids get off on the right foot. He runs an after-school program for kids in Chicago and just finished building a school in West Africa.

"It's really about, you know, what you can do with your gifts, with your platform to make the world around out better," he said.

And he believes his "Protectors" comic books, which are now available in all Chicago public libraries, will inspire kids.

"I've watched kids who don't know how to read page by page flip through an entire comic book," he said. "That's the real power of comic books. It allows you to begin reading."

The star of his comic is a football player who fights dark forces to make the world better.

Was the character inspired by Idonije himself?

"You know, possibly a little bit," he said.

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