*The following article appeared in the December 13, 2010 edition of the Texans Gameday magazine.
Curtis Duncan spent seven seasons in the NFL, all of them with the Oilers. All of those seasons ended with playoff runs.
Now a Texans Ambassador, Duncan wants the Texans to begin a successful string of their own.
"I'm hoping the same type of winning streak happens for the Houston Texans," Duncan said. "We got a great coaching staff here, we got great players and we got people who want to win. We got a great management group, so everybody is moving in the same direction. I just hope we're able to get there."
Now a certified public accountant working in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Duncan was a 10th-round draft choice out of Northwestern in 1987. He caught passes from Hall of Famer Warren Moon and played in the 1992 Pro Bowl after notching 82 receptions for 954 yards. He retired after the 1993 season.
A Run 'N' Shoot era wide receiver, Duncan said that his seven-year stretch of making the playoffs is one of the three things of which he's most proud from his time with Houston.
"Playing with some future Hall of Famers, number one," Duncan said. "Number two, having great coaches. And number three, going to the playoffs seven years in a row; giving our city a chance to go to the Super Bowl."
As a Texans Ambassador, Duncan is part of a group of former pro football players living in the Houston area. They participate in Texans community programs and attend autograph signings and charity events. It's a nice complement to his day job, and he jokes that being a CPA can be pretty intense.
"I work in information technology and financial services, so it's a combination of both, and it makes for a pretty interesting day," Duncan said. "Some days, it's kind of tough out there. I thought football was tough, but working with some of the clients can be just as physical."
Duncan is thankful that he gets to stay connected to football, and is quick to share that gratitude.
"I feel very fortunate and very blessed to have been asked to be an Ambassador because (Texans chairman and CEO) Mr. (Bob) McNair and the Texans organization didn't have to do that. But they did a great job of combining some of the old guys with some of the new guys, and for me, it's been awesome. I can't thank the organization enough for allowing me to be a part of it."
Duncan said one of the perks of being an Ambassador is the opportunity to stay in touch with former teammates, as well as Oilers who played before his time in the NFL.
"I appreciate guys like Kenny Houston and Charlie Frazier and Zeke Moore," he said. "They played before me and they were great role models. I'm very fortunate to be able to hang out with some of those guys."
Duncan still keeps in contact with former teammates like safety Bubba McDowell, receivers Haywood Jeffires and Webster Slaughter and linemen like Jay Pennison, Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews.
"We all meet up at least once a year for Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews' golf tournament benefitting the Leukemia Foundation," Duncan said. "It's always good to see some of the guys I played with."
He and his wife Meredith have two sons, and Duncan enjoys following the Texans, especially Andre Johnson.
"I think he exemplifies and represents what the Texans are all about," he said. "He's a class act. He's just an all-around great guy. He has a great heart for kids. I appreciate this community kind of bringing him in, coming from Miami. He's an awesome guy."
When asked how Johnson would have meshed with the Oilers of Duncan's day, the 1992 Pro Bowler lit up, acknowledging that his prowess on the field was one thing. But Duncan said that Johnson's off-the-field persona is what sets him apart.
"That's the type of guy we need in the league," Duncan said. "He represents all the good things in the National Football League."
Duncan's favorite part of being an Ambassador is "promoting a positive image about the game of football." He wants fans to know that he and his fellow Ambassadors are thankful for their time in the NFL, and that they feel blessed.
He misses the NFL life some, but not too much. When asked whether or not the competitive juices get flowing on gameday, whether or not he'd like to put on the pads and play, Duncan always responds emphatically.
"The answer to that is no!" he said. "It's a lot harder (now). They're stronger, they're faster, and let me tell you something: I appreciate the game for where I am right now in life. I think it's good watching from the sideline. I can cheer those guys on and feel good about it the next morning. I don't have to wake up and take Advil the next morning."