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Eric Crouch: Destined for Greatness?

by Tommy Brown
March 29, 2005 - National Football League Europa (NFLE) Hamburg Sea Devils

Almost all the players in NFL Europe understand the wonderful opportunity the league is going to provide them this summer. The players get the chance to play in live games that are televised on DirecTV, the NFL Network and Fox, showcasing their talents to their respective NFL teams that allocated them for the summer to Europe. Players like Akili Smith, who as an unsigned player, volunteered to go to the league to improve his skills and get back to the NFL. He was subsequently signed by the Buccaneers and will play for the Frankfurt Galaxy this season. Who will not find themselves rooting for Amsterdam Running Back Jarrett Payton this summer? He understands he is buried on the Titans roster, playing on their practice squad during the last NFL season. Payton knows that playing in NFL Europe will make him better and this fall he will probably make the Titans roster. Cologne quarterback Kevin Thompson may be the most intriguing and likeable player in the league. His desire and “never say die” work ethic can only draw in support of his efforts. When you see him in an NFL Uniform any time in the future, remember you heard about how great he is from this article. One of the best things about NFL Europe is the players are very likeable.

Unfortunately, one player who may who may never understand the direction he needs to go in professional football is Hamburg Sea Devil safety Eric Crouch. Knowing Crouch’s football history and reading his online NFL Europe Diary, one can only conclude that Crouch does not understand his place, his ideal position and what he can do to succeed in the NFL. He has throngs of fans from his days at Nebraska who would love to see him succeed, but so far in his professional career he has been a major disappointment.

A major problem with Crouch is that he has been unable to make the transition from the position he played in college to a pro position that is more suitable for his talents. If you have forgotten Eric Crouch use to play a little bit of quarterback in college, don’t worry, he will remind you. His very first diary entry to introduce himself, reads “Hi, I’m Eric Crouch and I played quarterback at the University of Nebraska.” It is amazing Crouch has never understood unless a professional team starts running the option, he will never play quarterback at the pro level. The St. Louis Rams drafted Crouch as a wide receiver, but he quit on the team, his teammates and fans before the season even started. Apparently, Crouch did not realize that St. Louis not only drafted him in the third round of the draft and but was paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El have had great success becoming receivers in the NFL after being quarterback stars for their college teams.

John Lynch was converted to safety from quarterback while he was at Stanford and after 12 years in the pros at safety with the Buccaneers and now the Broncos, the Pro-bowl accolades keep coming. One has never heard an interview with John Lynch complaining about not being a quarterback anymore. He took the safety position to a new level and redefined what a big hit looks and feels like. One could only wish Crouch would get involved with safety position with the same veracity. Eric Crouch, while in college, far exceeded the honors and athletic talent of Ward, Randle El or even Lynch. You know Eric won the Heisman trophy right? Don’t worry he’ll remind you. Oh the Glory Days, they’ll pass you by . . . .Sing it Bruce! Eric has such incredible athletic ability and it has gone all to waste so far. He has never appeared in a regular season NFL game.

Former NFL safety standout and Hamburg assistant coach James Trapp has his work cut out for him this season as he coaches Eric Crouch. Crouch lists in his NFL Europe diary of Trapp being as asset because he is “a player”, “smart” and “has experience”. Crouch currently possesses none of these attributes. Crouch quit on the St. Louis Rams when they wanted to make him a wide receiver, he quit on the Green Bay Packers when they gave him a second chance and wanted to make him a safety and it is only surprising that he has not quit on the Sea Devils yet. The odds makers were probably sure Crouch would not make it to the end of NFL Europe training camp in Florida, but he did. Now he is over in Germany getting ready for the NFL Europe season to start this weekend. Hamburg opens their season at Cologne. There is still a week left though, so Crouch detractors still have hope he can still skip out on his team.

Even the most ardent Crouch supporters would have to admit Crouch has not showed great intelligence so far in his career management. It could be that an Exercise Science degree is probably a rigorous academic program at Nebraska, but a favorite from Crouch was his comment upon arriving in Hamburg, Germany: “I knew the language was going to be different.” No, seriously he really did say that. “All the signs are in German”, said Crouch. But it is not intelligence that has held Crouch back so far. It could be that he took easy classes in college, or was instructed to take easy classes in college so that he would have more time to focus on football. It is his stubbornness to move on that is perplexing though. Joking aside, a safety is to stay in coverage of their assigned position in a zone defense or cover a player in man coverage. Crouch is smart enough to be able to memorize plays, schemes and make the adjustments necessary to defend any play the opposing team can come up with. And his speed is almost unrivaled in that he could cover just about anyone out there on the field. There have been rumors that the Hamburg team may design special goal-line plays for Crouch this season. One could only think that would make the shift to safety for Crouch even more difficult. One would think Crouch would approach the coaches and let them know he is there to play safety and not relive his college days. Once again he has all the intangibles and tangibles to succeed but so far has not.

One redeeming aspect of Eric Crouch is his dedication and love of his family. While away from them he keeps in contact via online video chats and numerous phone calls. He has a lovely wife and two wonderful children. Eric Crouch is a wonderful husband and father. One can only want Eric to succeed after reading about the dedication he shows to his loved ones. And the dedication to his family makes it only more painful to watch his downward spiral from “blue-chip-prospect Heisman-winner” to “close-to-being-out-of-the-league never-was”.

Unfortunately, his dedication as a husband and father far exceed his dedication as a football player. “I have to have sound technique or I’ll be lost out there,” wrote Crouch. His history says it will be the latter. Most successful NFL players, such as Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Derrick Brooks, Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss and numerous others, are legendary in their study and memorization of playbooks and game film. “I run through the playbook really quick and just refresh my mind . . . when I have extra time,” writes Crouch. “I keep saying this, but I really mean it - I do have a lot of work to do.” The biggest failure of Eric Crouch as a professional football player has been his lack of dedication. He needs to stop saying he needs to work to do and instead starting doing the work and extra effort needed to become a safety. He must stop making excuses while turning the page on his collegiate success, and realize that it is playing safety or selling playground equipment full time at his business. Kids do need playground equipment, but I doubt many playground equipment salesmen can run a 4.47 forty-yard dash. This is his last opportunity. Hopefully, he takes advantage of it.

An official website for Crouch is www.ecrouch.com. The title of the page is “Eric Crouch: Destined for Greatness.” Right now the title is about as comical as the toupee/hair weave that Dan Marino wears around. The title should be “Eric Crouch: Destined for Hamburg at the safety position.” Good luck this season Eric. You have the entire state of Nebraska rooting for you.

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National Football League Europa Stories from March 29, 2005


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