This article appeared in the September 26 issue of the Texans Gameday Magazine. Marcus Coleman, who played cornerback and safety for the Texans from 2002-05, is in his first season as a Houston Texans Ambassador.*
Marcus Coleman has fond memories of an 11-year NFL career that included a four-year run with the Texans. The former safety was part of a core of veteran players who helped the Texans begin a new pro football era in Houston in 2002.
"We had guys come from other teams that had playoff experiences," Coleman said. "The older guys who got here first knew how to play. It was kind of our job to get the younger guys up to speed and get them up to the speed of the game.
"It was fun, and it was hard. Even though you know you don't have all the pieces there, you still want to play and win."
Coleman, who now serves as a commentator on local sports talk radio, returned to the organization this season as a member of the Houston Texans Ambassadors. The Ambassadors are former NFL players living in the Houston area who assist the team in community projects.
"Guys like Aaron (Glenn) and Gary Walker and some of us others were kind of the foundation of the organization coming in," Coleman said. "It's an honor now to be asked to be a part of the Ambassador program and being able to give back to help the organization any way we can."
Coleman helped the Texans make history in their first game. He started at cornerback and had five tackles in the team's 19-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Reliant Stadium in 2002. It was only the second time in NFL history that a new franchise won its inaugural game.
Today marks the first time since then that the Cowboys have been back to Reliant Stadium for a regular-season game.
"I remember the entire city being excited about it," Coleman said, "so much so that not only for me but the other players, as long as you beat the Cowboys, you don't care what you do the rest of the year. The city was behind us.
"You had a lot of guys coming from different places. We found a way to win. We weren't expected to do much and definitely not expected to beat them. The atmosphere was so great. Until recently, I hadn't seen anything close to that."
Coleman is pulling for the Texans to take the next step and make the playoffs after last year's 9-7 finish, the team's first-ever winning season.
He attended an autograph session at a pregame fan brunch before the Texans' Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts and anticipates many more assignments as the season progresses. Being involved with the team again has brought back fond memories.
"It was fun working from the ground up, working with (Texans chairman and CEO) Mr. (Bob) McNair, getting everybody involved," Coleman said. "That's what I remember the most. Aaron and I had been to the playoffs in New York. Jamie Sharper went to the Super Bowl and Gary Walker and Corey Bradford came from Green Bay."
Coleman played his college football at Texas Tech under Spike Dykes and was a fifth-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 1996. He played on the Jets' 1998 team that lost to Denver in the AFC Championship Game.
A cornerback for the first eight years of his career, Coleman switched to safety in 2004. He recalls a career highlight of intercepting a pass from Dan Marino. He also returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown on Sept. 26, 2004, to help the Texans beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-21.
Coleman intercepted seven passes in 2003, which remains a Texans single-season record. His 11 career interceptions in Houston tie him for second place on the team's all-time list with Glenn.
After four seasons with the Texans, Coleman closed out his career with the Cowboys in 2006. He had 484 career tackles, 25 interceptions, 119 passes defensed and two touchdowns.
Growing up in the Dallas area, Coleman easily could have been a Cowboys fan from childhood.
"What's weird about me, and people don't understand is that I never really had a favorite team growing up," he said. "I've always just liked watching big games and individual players. I never really had that one team."
Coleman spent six years with the Jets before joining the Texans. His final year was with the Cowboys in 2006, though he played in only three games.
"I split my loyalties between the Jets and Texans," Coleman said. "I was only in Dallas for a year, so I didn't get a chance to experience their organization like I did in Houston and New York. Now, since I'm here full-time, my loyalty has shifted to Houston as far as rooting for them."
Coleman believes the fans enjoy reliving the team's history with former players.
"The playing experience that I have, we can offer a lot of insights, and a lot of fans have a connection with the older players," he said. "It's a good thing for us to be involved and stay around the game and have fun with it."