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Rookie Brandon Crawford, 33 Year Old Former Marine, Battling For A Roster Spot

Mr. P

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They weren't even Brandon Crawford's friends. That might be the most disheartening part of the story. They were just some guys from the neighborhood who were playing a pickup basketball game. They were hungry, too, and afterward they all wanted to get some pizza.


So Crawford hopped in their car.


Their stolen car.


From there he remembers, "everything just spiraled." Crawford wasn't a good enough defensive lineman in high school to get attention from the top programs in the country, but he was recruited by small colleges like Tennessee State, Clark Atlanta, and Alabama A&M. When he was arrested and put on probation, though, the scholarships disappeared.


"It's all about decisions that you make," Crawford says. "It's something that happened and you look back on it and wish that it hadn't. But at the same, I guess everything happens for a reason, you know?"


More than a decade later, Crawford believes he's finally found the reason. Now a 33-year-old former Marine, who spent the last four years as the oldest college football player in the nation, he spent the weekend chasing his impossible dream by trying out for the Giants. He wasn't expected to get offered a contract - and his invitation was likely more of a nice gesture by the team than a serious look - but the long shot, 6-3, 260-pound end was determined.


And he's beaten long odds before.


"I just want to get a chance to get out there and show people that age is nothing but a number," he says. "It's about if you have heart and determination and you're willing to finish what you start. Then anything is possible. I'm here to put myself in a position to say 'I didn't quit. I didn't give up. I didn't listen to what people think is the norm.'"


There's nothing normal about Crawford's story, despite the way he was able to blend in with his much younger teammates during the minicamp. None of the rookies asked was aware he was lining up with a 33-year-old man just a few years removed from the Marine Corps. And watching Crawford bolt out of his stance and sprint through drills, it was impossible to tell he wasn't just another kid.


That's what makes Crawford intriguing. He says that before the draft he was approached by a Cincinnati Bengals scout who told him, "If they didn't tell me how old you were, there's no way I'd be able to know. I wouldn't believe it. Because you don't look like it, and you don't move like it."


Ralph Reiff, the director of the St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in Indianapolis where Crawford trained before the draft, agrees.


"We're hired to be pretty honest - brutally honest," Reiff says. "We've sent guys home before, when their dream has been misdirected, they've gotten bad advice, or mentally they think they're a lot more talented than they really are. So we've got a pretty good feel that this is a guy that, if you did not know his age, it would never be a question."


That's remarkable considering the detour Crawford's athletic career took. Crawford's family didn't have enough money to send him to college after he lost his scholarships. Crawford took on several different jobs, including one on an automobile assembly line. That job made him sick - literally, thanks to the paint fumes - so at 23 years old he decided to join the Marines.


In other words, at an age when he could have - and maybe should have - been training for the NFL draft, he was off to basic training instead.


When he received his honorable discharge four years later, he decided to pursue his degree in criminal justice - and maybe give his football career one last shot. In 2006, at the seemingly too-old age of 29, he convinced Ball State to give him a spot on the roster. He was older than all his teammates and five of the assistant coaches.


Yet he ended up starting 39 games and made the all-Mid-American Conference team three times. And somehow never felt out of place at all.


"They welcomed me in," Crawford says. "I mean, at first they really don't know, 'Who is this guy they're bringing in? Oh, he's older. Can he play?' That was probably going through guys' minds. But once they seen me out there playing, seeing me get after it, going just as hard as they were - if not harder - we all blended in as one big family."


Now he's trying to blend in again, hoping to convince the Giants coaching staff - anyone in the NFL, really - that he can't be defined by a number. He thinks he's just as good, but much stronger and fitter, than the day he jumped into that stolen car in search of a slice of pizza. He just needs someone to be willing to see beyond his age.


"That's my whole point," Crawford says. "That's what I've been trying to tell everyone. Once they see that age and hear that number they're like, 'Oh no.' It's like the blinders go on.'"


Getting those blinders off is an uphill battle.


"This is just another one," Crawford says. "I've been having hills to climb for a very long time."






good article, hes a longshot but im rooting for him.







edit: ralph v is reporting that the giants used their 1 open roster spot to sign one of the tryout linebackers, which means its not this guy. hope he ends up somewhere though.

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Sounds like bullshit to me. "Nah man I don't know these guys, we were just going for pizza." :jerkoff:



On Cops it's always like that. It's not my car it's my buddies but I don't know where he is or why he put crack in the glove compartment. I guess the problem is that if it is true nobody believes you anyway.

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On Cops it's always like that. It's not my car it's my buddies but I don't know where he is or why he put crack in the glove compartment. I guess the problem is that if it is true nobody believes you anyway.



True that...but you would be surprised at what young guys get themselves into. I had a kid at my facility who is an honor student; top notch grades; is on a scholarship to an exclusive private school in NJ; and he hangs out with local teenage reps for MS-13 (a Salvadoran gang) and the Bloods. They came on to him like any bunch of kids just wanting to hang. The two gangs have formed an unlikely partnership in the local drug trade here in Fort Apache (Mott Haven, South Bronx :o ). Long story short he was hanging with them at a local bodega and some of the kids started shop lifting...since his dumbass was in the group. Once they got scooped up he was arrested and got a juvenile record.


He is academically very smart but socially inept. He has a crush on the local MS-13 teenage chapter heads...lol...girlfriend. The kid in question is Black and the girl is Salvadoran ...so is the chapter head. Everyone is all giggles now...just imagine if Juan comes in one day and finds his tight space all loose...lol... :afro::banana::furious: Won't be too much giggling then. Tried to tell him to leave that alone too....so I can believe this kind of shit happens. It sure isn't a wives tale that it takes boys/men a lot longer to mature into rational thinking beings.

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