Cantu continues Cardinals career in front office

Former Arizona Cardinals guard Rolando Cantu may be finished playing in the National Football League, but he can't completely stay away from the game. After retiring at the end of the 2005 season, Cantu now serves as the manager of international business ventures for the Cardinals.

In his new role, Cantu, who was appointed to the position eight months ago, spearheads projects that help increase awareness of the NFL in Mexico and bolster the Cardinals' Hispanic fanbase. Cantu also works on community relations projects, such as sponsoring Pop Warner football programs in Mexico.

"It's a great opportunity for me to continue with the sport that has opened a lot of doors for me," Cantu said of his new job.

Special to NFL.com
Originally a product of the NFL's International Practice Squad Program, Rolando Cantu now works to build awareness of the NFL in his native Mexico.

Born in and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Cantu initially came to the Cardinals' organization through the NFL's International Practice Squad Program. He spent 2004 on Arizona's practice squad before seeing time on the club's active roster in 2005. He made one appearance that year in a game against the Indianapolis Colts.

As a member of the Cardinals' front office, Cantu helped launch the Cardinals' Spanish language webpage -- www.azcardinals.com/espanol -- earlier this year. Cantu also contributes to an "insider" blog that is featured on the site.

"We want to write about what went on in the locker room and at practice," Cantu said of the blog. "We want to give people information they're not normally exposed to."

Cantu said the website has received a great response so far and that the team is looking to expand it and add more features as the season moves forward.

Cantu also worked on a personal initiative this offseason -- "Campamento Rolando Cantu."

The one-day event drew over 550 Mexican youth to Cantu's hometown. The children participated in drills with 10 current and former NFL players, including Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals safety Oliver Celestin, and retired kicker Luis Zendejas.

"We teach not only football, because it's a great opportunity to mentor kids," says Cantu. "This is the first time many are around American football players."

Cantu, who looked up to former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith as a child, urged the campers to work hard in school and towards their dreams. Cantu credits the international business education he received while in college in Mexico for preparing him for his current job with the Cardinals.

Opportunities in professional football are at an all-time high for Mexican athletes, as Cantu says the NFL is increasingly monitoring international talent.

After the football workout at Cantu's camp, players distributed NFL gear and autographed items.

"I just had to take a step back and reflect on what I was doing," Cantu said. "Here was this little six-year-old kid after interacting with Larry Fitzgerald saying 'This is the best day of my life' in front of his parents."

But the youth weren't the only ones to benefit from the camp.

The NFL players on the trip "experienced what Mexico is really about," Cantu said. "We fed them traditional stuff -- carne asada, guacamole and cabrito. They got to experience real Mexican culture."