SI Vault
Nine-and-a-Half Weeks
November 13, 2006
Losing weight, helping Mama and making "friends"--are we having fun yet?
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 13, 2006

Nine-and-a-half Weeks

Losing weight, helping Mama and making "friends"--are we having fun yet?

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2


Last month the Liberia-born first-rounder was reunited with his mother, Rachel Keita, after 13 years, when she came to the U.S. The adjustment hasn't been easy. "I live with my mother and my brother, and I have a girlfriend," says the Penn State grad. "I'm under my mom's rules again. Some things she approves of, some she doesn't." Practices are Hali's sanctuary. "On the football field, I'm at peace," he says. "I'm running around, and I don't have anything else to think about."


He had no interceptions at Oregon, but 27 minutes into his first NFL game the 6'4" 340-pounder was holding a deflected Chris Simms pass and looking at 69 yards to the end zone. "It felt like I was running to Hawaii," recalls Ngata. "It was so far. It felt good for 30 yards, and then I just died out; it felt like something big jumped on my back." Ngata ran out-of-bounds after chugging 60 yards. "Some people said I didn't have a motor," he says. "I feel I've answered those questions."


The downside of signing a six-year, $27.3 million contract? "People you haven't talked to in a long time come, and they don't ask for $100 or $200. They ask for $20,000 or $30,000," says Cleveland's sack leader. "It's like, How much did you contribute to me getting here? Now you want to ask me for a huge amount of money and think it's not big to me? It's happened more than once. More than three times."

1 2