Texans Ambassador profile: N.D. Kalu

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N.D. Kalu, a defensive lineman for the Texans from 2006-08, is in his first season as a Houston Texans Ambassador.

EDITOR'S NOTE: *This article first appeared in the Houston Texans Gameday magazine on Nov. 23, 2009, for the Texans' game on *Monday Night Football *against the Tennessee Titans. *

N.D. Kalu, a defensive lineman for the Texans from 2006-08, is in his first season as a Houston Texans Ambassador.

N.D. Kalu's retirement from pro football has been an audible.

"I always said when I was done with football, I was done," Kalu said. "I didn't want to be one of those guys who went into coaching or tried to relive their playing days. I wanted to roll right into my real estate investment firm and just do that."

So what happened? In his first year since leaving the Texans, Kalu joined the Houston Texans Ambassadors program and became an analyst for SportsRadio 610 AM in addition to keeping watch over the real estate business he started six years ago.

"Some days now, I feel more busy than when I was playing football," Kalu said. "The good thing is, I'm not sitting there reminiscing and thinking about my playing days and getting depressed, thinking I could keep playing the game."

And, of course, he says he can still play.

"Every athlete feels that way," Kalu said. "But it's out of my system. I don't have the desire to go to meetings from 9-5 and days of practicing three hours.

"Now, I can enjoy being a fan and an analyst on 610. There are things I can do within the sport without having to beat my body up."

And why the Ambassadors?

"It keeps me close to the game, which I really enjoy," Kalu said. "I have so much respect for (Texans owner) Mr. (Bob) McNair and the type of characters they bring into the locker room. He wants to win it all, but he wants to win with a certain type of person. That's what I've always respected about him."

Kalu actively gave back to the community throughout his 11-year NFL career with the Eagles (1997, 2001-05) Redskins (1998-2000) and Texans (2006-08). Becoming a part of the Ambassadors became an extension of his association with the Texans and Houston.

The Texans Ambassadors are former NFL players who live in or near Houston. They sign autographs at games and make other appearances for the franchise.

"It ties in with everything else I'm doing," Kalu said. "I signed on with SportsRadio 610. This is my home. I'm not a professional player any more, but I'm a fan of Houston sports, whether it be the Texans or Rockets.

"When they came to me and asked me to be an Ambassador, I was excited. It was almost like draft day all over to be involved with the organization."

Kalu has been a Houstonian since arriving at Rice from San Antonio Marshall High School.

"When I got to Rice when I was 17, I fell in love with the city," Kalu said. "I knew that wherever life took me, I would end up in Houston. For me to play my last three years of professional ball here in Houston, you couldn't ask for a better story. It worked out so well."

The Texans parted ways with Kalu last year, ending his 11-year run in the NFL. He left the league without bitterness.

"A lot of guys, when they are released from a team, there is a negative feeling and they almost hope their team loses," Kalu said. "But I'm very genuine, when I'm watching the games I'm screaming at the TV because I want them to win.

"I know all the guys. A lot of them, I consider friends, like Mario (Williams) or Amobi (Okoye). When they lose, I'm upset the whole day just like they are."

Kalu has found it interesting to observe his role reversal from player to interviewer.

"I'm only a year removed from that locker room, so when I go into that locker room to interview players, I almost feel silly – I'm interviewing my friends," Kalu said. "I know the answers to most of the questions I'm asking."

Always affable during interviews as a player, Kalu has a perspective of the other side of the microphone and notepad.

"From the first interview I did, I caught the bug," he said. "I gained a lot of respect for the media trying to track down egotistical players, trying to talk to players after a loss when they don't want to talk.

"I like being in the studio for the radio show. I get to talk about what I know and my experiences. It keeps me close to the game without having to get my body beat up by guys like Eric Winston."

Among all his new duties, Kalu is getting to play catch-up as a dad.

"I've missed too many soccer games, too many first days at school," Kalu said. "I have two sons, and I want them to really know what it means to be a man.

"Now, I have time to take them on errands, to show them they're supposed to open doors for ladies at the grocery store, just little things that you take for granted that I wasn't able to do."

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.

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