Aside from moving into a new leadership role on the Bills defense, Chris Kelsay spent some time visiting different schools in the Buffalo area this offseason. That is, of course, when he wasn't spending some valuable time with his wife and daughter.
Buffalobills.com: With five years of experience in the NFL you have been through a lot. Do you try to help the rookies and second year guys during OTA's and mini camp?
Chris Kelsay: Yes, especially losing some of the guys that we lost in free agency with Nate (Clements) being gone along with Takeo (Spikes) and London (Fletcher). We lost some leaders so it time for other guys to step up and I think we're seeing that out of a few guys. Definitely the younger guys because defensively we are pretty young all the way around but I think we can have guys step up and really try to be leaders and take some of the younger guys under their wings and we should be in good shape.
Buffalobills.com: Did you have anyone that was a mentor to you when you first joined the Bills?
CK: When I came in London ran our defense. He made the calls in the huddle and he got everybody lined up pre-snap. If you weren't working hard he was going to let you know. He really took control of that defense and I think that we are going to have to have a couple guys who'll step up. Maybe somebody up front, whether it's me or whoever it may be, and then Angelo (Crowell) or Dante (Whitner) or Terrence (McGee) in the defensive secondary. We might have to have two or three guys step up. It's tougher when you lose a guy like that with that much experience, not just as a player but also as a leader. You have to have a couple guys step up and fill those shoes.
Buffalobills.com: You spent some of your time in the off season visiting schools. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
CK: It's always nice to give back. I've always kind of set my heart on giving back to the community and try to be a role model to the youth. This generation has a lot of temptations and a lot of stuff out there so it's always good to help them get on the right track or stay on the right track. My mother is a principal/athletic director and taught for 16 years prior to the last 13 years filling that role so school has always been a big part of my life and something that was stressed by my parents. It's always good to give back and speak to kids and get involved in classrooms.
Buffalobills.com: Was there anyone one school or one experience that really stuck in your mind?
CK: I went and spoke at Clarence High School and it was early in the morning because it had to be before schools hours because it was their youth group. It was called Impact Youth and there were probably 25 to 30 kids there and some teachers. To see how those kids responded and reacted amongst each other and what's in the student body was amazing. For some reason that visit stuck out more than others. I had a blast. There were a couple other schools I went and visited and they were all fun.
Buffalobills.com: When you are not working out or visiting schools how do you stay busy during the off-season?
CK: We have a little girl now. My wife Natalie and I stay pretty busy trying to keep her happy. I'm gone a lot during the season, every other weekend it seems like, on the road or when I go to training camp or whatever it may be. So I like spending time with family and going to the zoo or taking in a movie. We're still pretty busy but my wife and I will take a trip down to Mexico for about seven or eight days once OTA's are done and before we head to training camp. Family and friends is primarily what we do with our spare time.
Buffalobills.com: How important is having primarily the same coaching staff for the second consecutive year?
CK: I'm excited about it. Last year, it was a new system for us. It was the first time we changed since I started here in Buffalo. Any experience or longevity you have as far as the coaching staff goes I think the more productive you'll be whether it's offensively or defensively. I think we'll be more settled out there. We'll know our responsibilities and we'll just be able to go out and play football and really get the most out of the potential we have as athletes. I'm excited and I think the coaches are as well and we're looking forward to training camp.
Buffalobills.com: You got a degree in finance from Nebraska in 2003. What are your aspirations for after you retire?
CK: I don't know whether I'll use my degree or not. My brother has a finance degree as well from the University of Nebraska. He works for the second largest commercial insurance brokerage firm in the world now. He's a vice president and resident sales manager from the Omaha, Nebraska office and they joke around with me about wanting to come back and work for him. But the Lord has blessed me with the ability to play football and he's made it very successful for me and my family so when the time comes to hang the cleats up I'll have to do something to stay busy but whether or not it's in the financial field is yet to be seen but it's always a possibility I guess.
Buffalobills.com: There are no other Cornhuskers on the Bills roster, but there are a lot of new faces from other Big 12 schools. (Thaddaeus Washington - Colorado; Josh Scobey - Kansas St.; C.J. Ah You - Oklahoma; Eric Bassey - Oklahoma; Derrick Dockery - Texas) How do you think it will be when Nebraska plays these guy's schools?
CK: I feel kind of a new life back in Nebraska. I think coach (Bill) Callahan and that crew is getting it turned around and there is going to be some great things that happen there. People were down on Nebraska for a long time but with the coaching changes and some of the losses that we suffered towards the end of my career there at Nebraska. They switched it over from a power option football team to a west coast offense. That just can't happen over night. It takes time to recruit and get the right personnel in and I think that they are making strides to do that the last couple of years. This year they've got a great quarterback, actually a couple great quarterbacks and a good backfield so I think people a pretty excited about it.