NASHVILLE – Titans defensive back Joshua Kalu is in the middle of a week-long trip to Budapest, Hungary, where he's spreading the word about American football, and his love for the game.
Kalu and fellow Titans defensive back Chris Milton are among a contingent of former and current NFL players with the group American Football Without Barriers.
And for Kalu, the trip has been "an eye-opener" for many reasons.
"I was sitting down the other day and one of the guys came up to me and said, 'You're a legend,'" Kalu said during a telephone interview on Monday. "I was like, 'Me? A legend?' I look at myself in comparison to all the good guys on our team, and I sure don't see myself as a legend. My mom tells me I'm a legend, of course. But hearing it from somebody else thousands and thousands of miles away, it is amazing.
"Just being here and being a part of this, I guess I didn't realize how powerful the NFL, and how powerful the United States, is in general. We are the benchmark for a lot of countries, and what they aspire to be. So, it is humbling to see how a lot of guys look up us here."
American Football Without Barriers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to globalizing American football and reaching underprivileged communities with a humanitarian message. Nearly 20 current and former NFL players are taking part in the trip, which has already included a lot of activities with men, women and children from around the globe, and the eighth-annual AFWB Football Camp.
Some of the communication has been with players from the Budapest Cowbells and Budapest Eagles, American football teams from Budapest, Hungary.
Kalu, who initially joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2018, has played in 16 games over the past two seasons. He made one of the biggest plays of the 2019 season with a blocked field goal against the Chiefs on the final play of the game, which secured the win.
Kalu said a lot of the players he's spoken to are fans of the Titans, and know all about running back Derrick Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and others. He's seen Titans hats and t-shirts. Many of the players from the football teams there have aspirations to make it to the NFL one day, he said.
And Kalu said he wants to do anything he can to help. Kalu has also had a big time communicating with the children, shooting videos and taking pictures.
"The kids, they are excited to see us," Kalu said. "And when it comes to coaching, I love football. I really truly love football, and I have since I was little. So being able to show these people what I know, from youngsters to grown men to grown women, to share the love and my enthusiasm for the game and showing them all the techniques I know in an effective way, it's been fun.
"Their techniques are what they have seen on TV or YouTube and they try and mimic it, so it is learning process and I want to share my love of the game and teach them any way I can."
Among the community activities scheduled for AFWB's trip to Budapest: A visit to American International School of Budapest, a trip to the Mozgasjavito Institute, an activation with the Ferencváros Torna Club Men's Handball Team of the Hungarian Handball League, and a private dinner with David B. Cornstein, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary.
The NFL players also had visits planned for the Citadella, Central Market Hall, Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, JHugary's Parliament Building, an evening boat tour of the Danube River, a tour of historic Heroes' Square in Budapest, and a visit to the Szecheyi Thermal baths.
During the phone interview on Monday, Kalu was on a bus ride to visit to Eger to participate in a pig feast and tour the Eger Castle.
It's been a learning experience for Kalu, too.
"This whole trip, it's been an eye-opener," Kalu said. "To be able to be here and to meet so many people and to be able to talk about my love the game, and to be able to teach, it has been a blessing."
Titans Online looks back at defensive back Joshua Kalu's 2019 season. (Photos: Donald Page)