Star NFL defensive end Igor Olshansky was the guest of honor at a recent Friday night meal hosted by the Chabad Jewish Student Center serving S. Diego State University in California.

Joined by former S. Diego Chargers lineman Michael London, who played football in the late 1960s, Olshansky told the more than 250 students who came to meet him that they should be proud of their Jewish heritage. A second-round 2004 draft pick out of the University of Oregon, Olshansky plays for the Chargers, where he has earned a reputation as one of the strongest defensive players in professional football.

Born in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, in 1982, he moved to S. Francisco with his family at the age of seven. Before college, he attended the city's Hebrew Academy, a Jewish day school. He's the first player from the former Soviet Union to be drafted by an NFL team.

Rabbi Chalom Boudjnah, co-director of the campus-based Chabad House, said that the football-themed event was a big hit.

"Real strength comes from the soul," Rabbi Chalom Boudjnah, co-director of the campus-based Chabad House. "The students saw how, as a football player in the public spotlight, Olshansky has a chance to reach thousands of people, and that any chance he gets, he speaks about Jewish pride."

According to participants, a point frequently made by London was the responsibility Jewish people had to perform acts of goodness and kindness.

Freshman Oren Fishman said that people who don't normally attend Chabad House programs came specifically to hear Olshansky. They walked away with a powerful message.

"We talked to him about the importance of raising your kids Jewish," said the student. "It was a very interesting night."