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Surrey’s Kongbo aims for NFL again, this time with Denver Broncos

Former Holy Cross standout signs NFL contract after winning two Grey Cups with Blue Bombers
Pro footbal player Jonathan Konbo pictured outside his Surrey home in 2019. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

After winning two Grey Cups in Canada, Jonathan Kongbo is taking aim at the NFL again.

The Surrey-raised defensive end has signed a contract with Denver Broncos a month after winning another CFL title with Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Kongbo signed with the Broncos on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

“Been a crazy ride, only up from here,” Kongbo posted to Facebook on Jan. 15.

“The Broncos have added one more young player to their growing list of players on future contracts,” says a news release posted to the NFL team’s website.

Kongbo and other players recently signed by Denver will be added to the Broncos’ 90-man active roster after the 2021 NFL season officially concludes.

Between the 2019 and 2021 CFL seasons, Kongbo spent nearly eight months with the San Francisco 49ers during the 2020 offseason before being designated as waived/injured in August of that year.

In his two seasons in the CFL, Kongbo has made 28 tackles and recorded four sacks as he’s appeared in 30 games, including two starts.

Kongbo played his college ball at the University of Tennessee after standout high school seasons in Surrey, with Holy Cross.

“I’m a kid from Kinshasa, Zaire at the time – now the Democratic Republic of the Congo now,” Kongbo said in a chat with on Friday. “So, you mention the road travelled and the journey… it was fleeing war as a kid with my family, immigrating to Canada, having to learn a new language and fit into a different society. Then it was being able to graduate high school, which was a big thing, because it was a difficult for me to make it to college and then not only make it to college but graduating as well.

“So, when I’m signing that contract there was a realization that this was more than just for me. When I put down ‘Kongbo’ I felt like I was not only representing my family, but in a lot of ways the immigrant story of an immigrant kid, Africa as a whole, Congo. I don’t know, maybe this helps open up a path for others as well where people say, ‘If he did it, maybe I can do it, too.’”

• READ MORE: Back-to-back Grey Cup wins for Surrey-raised Jonathan Kongbo, with Blue Bombers

Kongbo, 25, and the Blue Bombers also won the Grey Cup in 2019, a year before the pandemic cancelled the 2020 CFL championship game.

Kongbo overcame a serious injury at the start of his first CFL season to play for the Bombers. With the Tennessee Volunteers of the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference (SEC), the hulking “King” Kongbo tore the ACL in his right knee during a game against Auburn in October of 2018, ending his senior season and, ultimately, his dream of being drafted by an NFL team.

While at Holy Cross, Kongbo was something of an accidental football star – a guy who hadn’t played the game until Grade 12 at the Fleetwood-area Catholic school. He’d been a basketball player at Kitsilano Secondary until transferring to Holy Cross, where the Crusaders’ coaches eventually coaxed him to try football, a game he didn’t embrace at first, but grew to love.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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