Ex-Marine Hopes To Become Oldest Rookie In NFL
GUY RAZ, host:
Two-hundred and fifty-five college football players were drafted into the NFL last weekend. But for those who weren't, there is still some hope. A few teams occasionally sign walk-ons. These are guys who show up at training camp to try out - guys like Brandon Crawford.
Now, this weekend, in New Jersey, Crawford is trying out with the New York Giants. He's served in the Marines and he played at Ball State in Indiana. But the one thing that makes him stand out is his age. Brandon Crawford is 33, and if the Giants sign him, he'll become one of the oldest rookies in NFL history.
And Brandon's on the line from Giants' training camp. Hello.
Mr. BRANDON CRAWFORD: Hello. How are you doing?
RAZ: I'm doing well, thanks. So, how is the rookie camp going so far? I mean, what have the coaches been telling you?
Mr. CRAWFORD: It's going great. And everything is really quick. You know, no time for slackers or, you know, not knowing. You have to know what you're doing so you can play fast.
RAZ: Now, Brandon, you enrolled at Ball State when you were 29, which is pretty late. Did you play high school football?
Mr. CRAWFORD: Southside High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
RAZ: So, when you finished high school, did you think about going right to college to play college football?
Mr. CRAWFORD: Yeah, I wanted to play in college. I had teams that were looking at me. I was part of a scholarship program at the time and then that scholarship was taken from me because on our junior year, after a football game and I was sitting on the porch at home and everybody usually goes to that local Pizza Hut and just hangs out and I was trying to get a ride.
Well, I ended up flagging some guys down. They were riding by. The car that I got in at that time ended up being stolen. And so those guys ended up getting in trouble - we all got in trouble really - and I ended up getting on probation.
RAZ: So, that one night scuttled your plans to play football.
Mr. CRAWFORD: Correct.
RAZ: And so that's when you decided that your option was, at that point, to go to the Marine Corps.
Mr. CRAWFORD: That was always in my mind though. My family is grounded in military. I have a cousin, you know, he's up in the Navy. I got another two cousins that was in the Marine. And I remember my grandfather, in one of his rooms, he had a plaque of all his pictures and all the deployments and all his ribbons. So, it was something that was in my mind. And that's the road I chose once that was taken away.
RAZ: Now, when you arrived at Ball State, you walked on, right? I mean, you walked onto the football team.
Mr. CRAWFORD: Correct. 2004 was when I initially talked to the coaches about walking on. My mom and sister kind of fell on hard times a little bit back home. They were trying to move or get resituated, so I came back home to help them get settled in. And then '06 was when I came back, talked to the staff. Nothing was promised to me or anything. They just said we're just going to see how you work and see what happens.
RAZ: So, was playing in the NFL always part of your plan? I mean, did you think that you would always go and play in the pros?
Mr. CRAWFORD: In my heart I would love to be, you know, in that position but at the same time I was trying to focus on the college level first, you know? I said, you know, if I just take advantage of this opportunity, work hard, get myself in a good strength and conditioning program and push myself, hopefully I'll be in a position, you know, to be able to have that opportunity.
RAZ: What happens if you don't make it?
Mr. CRAWFORD: I haven't, you know, thought about that at all. That haven't even crossed my mind. I'm focused on, you know, what I'm supposed to do and go from there and deal with the situation if it arises.
RAZ: That's Brandon Crawford. He's a 33-year-old rookie trying to get a spot on the NFL's New York Giants. Thanks so much.
Mr. CRAWFORD: All right.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.