First-round pick comes to town


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Jan 22, 2006
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First-round pick comes to town
Hali’s first hit with fans
Penn State star has been center of attention since being chosen by Chiefs
The Kansas City Star

He still lives in a dorm room, still has a childlike giggle, and it was hard Monday night to picture the teddy-bearish Tamba Hali, in his brown striped suit, wanting to maul a quarterback.

He really does.

Hali played basketball when he first came to the United States as a kid, but it didn’t feel right. He picked up too many offensive fouls. Then somebody introduced him to football, and he watched on TV and said it looked too easy.

“I started immediately,” Hali said. “They said, ‘Go get the guy with the ball.’

“All I really wanted to do was hit.”

Two wild days after the Chiefs picked him in the first round of the NFL draft, Hali showed up in Kansas City for the traditional grip-and-grin session with the locals. They knew little about him. He’s a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive end, something Chiefs fans have yearned for, but his name didn’t carry the buzz that 2005 first-rounder Derrick Johnson did.

Then Hali went with the 20th pick, and now everybody has been calling. CNN wants to do a story on how he escaped Liberia during a civil war when he was a kid. Dozens of friends and well-wishers want to wish him luck.

Hali couldn’t sleep in the days leading up to the draft, so he stashed his phone Sunday and crashed for 24 straight hours, grabbed a suit and headed to Kansas City. He flew in Monday afternoon and spent more than an hour in the upstairs offices at Arrowhead Stadium, in meetings with president/general manager Carl Peterson, coach Herm Edwards and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.

Then Hali was whisked into a room full of cameras and was asked to partake in his favorite hobby.

“I’m not gonna rap here today,” Hali said.

“But I do rap, I do write lyrics and make beats. That’s how I get away.”

As the final cocktail glasses and dinner rolls were discarded late Monday, one Chiefs official called Hali refreshing. When Hali was offered his first college scholarship, he didn’t know what it meant. Could he really play football and go to college for free? He asked his coach what he should do.

“Say thank you,” the coach said.

Hali ended up at Penn State, playing under defensive-line coach Larry Johnson Sr., and pulverized enough quarterbacks to become an All-American. He made enough of an impression with Johnson Sr.’s son that Larry showed up for the banquet Monday night to say hello to his old friend.

They text-messaged earlier in the day, and Larry Johnson, a Pro Bowl running back, was eager to show Hali around. He’ll have plenty to keep him busy over the next few months. Rookie camp is in less than two weeks. And Hali, who couldn’t read or write in English when he arrived in America 12 years ago, will graduate sometime this summer with a degree in journalism.

First he’s got to get out of that tiny dorm room.

“I don’t worry too much about (contracts),” Hali said. “I think those things will take care of themselves. My main concern is playing football and helping Kansas City to go back and win a … I want to say national championship because I’m used to saying it …

“A Super Bowl.”
Sounds like a good kid.

Curse you Red Baron!
Rupert said:
Sounds like a good kid.

Curse you Red Baron!
Well I just hope he has a great season!! :p
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