*This article originally appeared in the November 7, 2010 edition of the Houston Texans Gameday magazine.
Cornerback Aaron Glenn is one of the cornerstones of the Texans franchise. One of the original eight players drafted by the expansion team in 2002, he was delighted to return to his hometown after eight seasons with the New York Jets.
Glenn relishes being one of the Texans Ambassadors, 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.
"I enjoyed being one of the original eight guys selected by the Texans in their inaugural season," Glenn said. "That always made me feel I had a tie with the team. No matter if I went and played somewhere else, there's a special part of being a part of a team at the very beginning."
Glenn feels right at home with the Texans because he really is back to his roots. He was born in Humble, played high school football at Aldine Nimitz and played college football at Texas A&M.
He went off to see the world as a first-round pick of the Jets in 1994 before returning in 2002 and playing three seasons for the Texans.
Glenn then spent two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and also played at Jacksonville and New Orleans before retiring from the NFL after 15 seasons. Glenn signed a one-day contract with the Texans in July so he could retire as a Texan.
Yes, there were three Pro Bowl selections and a career filled with big moments. Still, up high on his pride list is being an original Texan.
"I was there at the beginning and tried to help the franchise grow to where it's respected, and I believe it has," Glenn said. "I feel I have some ownership in the direction of the team. I always hoped I was one of the guys who helped build a solid foundation for that franchise."
Glenn was a veteran voice at cornerback for the Texans when he played.
Now, he can empathize with Texans first-round draft pick Kareem Jackson, who has faced adversity as a rookie starter. Glenn started as a rookie with the Jets.
"It's always a humbling experience when you first get to the NFL, especially as a defensive back knowing that you'll be the target each time you go out," Glenn said. "That's OK. The defensive back really wants that. You are either going to make the play or you're not. You've got to want that challenge, regardless if you're a rookie or not."
Jackson has taken his lumps and been on the wrong side of some big plays this season. That's the life of a rookie, Glenn says.
"Kareem has to keep his confidence and want it," Glenn said. "He has to know that each week is an opportunity to make a play. You can't look at it like, 'Oh, they're going to come at me.' You have to look at it as an opportunity."
Glenn explains to young players how it is to be a cornerback in the NFL.
"You should not let confidence become an issue, because that's the life of a defensive back," Glenn said. "There are some games when you are going to be on that island and your receiver can't catch a ball. You know every move he's going to make, and it seems like the game has slowed down. Defensive backs call that 'being in the zone.'"
Glenn feels obligated to point out there is the other side as well.
"There are other games that seem like anything you do is not right," he said. "I've seen Rod Woodson in a game against Buffalo where Andre Reed just ate his lunch, and he's one of the top cornerbacks ever.
"It happens. As a rookie, it happens more than you want it to. But they are all learning experiences."
The Texans depended on Glenn to share his knowledge with younger players when he was a player for their new team.
Glenn was a two-time All-Southwest Conference and All-American defensive back for the Texas Aggies. The Jets made him the 12th overall player chosen in the 1994 draft.
When the Texans chose Glenn in the 2002 expansion draft, he produced immediately. He started all 16 games in the Texans' inaugural season and picked off five passes, returning two for touchdowns. That year, he and defensive lineman Gary Walker became the first Texans to earn Pro Bowl honors.
Glenn had 41 career interceptions, including six returned for touchdowns, and 638 career tackles.
He made his wife, who is from Dallas, happy by playing for the Cowboys in 2005 and 2006. Looking back on his time in the NFL, there's not much Glenn would change.
"I have no regrets in my career," Glenn said. "Everything that I wanted and dreamed and prayed for has happened. I had a chance to go off and see what the U.S. was about. I went to New York and had a great time. The fans were great. I had a chance to come back home and play in my hometown. I had a chance to go where my wife is from and play in front of her friends.
"I couldn't write the story any better. Being able to retire in my hometown was a dream come true. The memories are great. Those are stories I'll tell to my kids when they get older."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky., Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro teams.