Emmanuel Acho hasn’t played for the Texas Longhorns since the 2011 season, but he’s spent plenty of time on campus after departing for the NFL.
Acho just graduated with a master’s degree in sports psychology from UT and has already earned a reputation as a humanitarian in addition to drawing rave reviews for his work as an analyst on the Longhorn Network.
The Austin American-Statesman recently caught up with Acho, who last played in the league in 2015 but has yet to officially submit his retirement papers, and found the 26-year-old involved in all sorts of activities.
Acho and his brother Sam are first-generation Americans, with both of their parents born in Nigeria. Among Emmnauel’s recent activities are hosting a lunch party for the homeless in Austin and making trips to Nigeria to provide free medical care.
In fact, his family built the clinic where they volunteer in Africa as part of the Living Hope Christian Ministries charity.
But he’s doing much more than that. Acho worked for both the Longhorn Network and Fox 7 last season, does public speaking, and hosts a podcast called Beyond the Film Room, which is about the abilities of athletes beyond sports:
“Ultimately, whenever a player chimes in on Twitter or about social media race, religion, (or politics),” he said, “a fan will quirp up and say, ‘Get in the film room. Shouldn’t you be watching film? Stick to sports.’
“They’re intimating that the player is only as knowledgeable and capable of the sport they’re playing,” Acho said. “I wanted to transcend that.”
Acho also participated in a forum with the former Austin police chief meant to reduce divisions between the police and African-American communities.
He also says he’s not in love with football the same way his brother is, which could owe in part to a string of injuries that shortened his professional career. Acho still did very well financially, earning more than $1.2 million over his four seasons and becoming vested in the league’s pension plan.
Acho says simply, “It’s hard to love a game that hurts you so much.”
In fact, if things don’t change his own children may be suiting up in another sport.
“Based on where this game will be in 15 years, I think that answers is yes (they will play football),” he said. “I think the game will take great strides. If the game does not, then no. We will encourage our son to go play basketball or go play baseball. That’s where the real money is.”
And if they don’t succeed in sports, their father will surely open up a world of opportunities for them in other areas.