Crouch says future likely won't be in pro football

Friday, July 25, 2003

OMAHA, Neb. -- Pondering his future over a cup of coffee Thursday morning, Eric Crouch thought aloud that maybe he should take one of those career tests that match one's personality to a suitable job.

What if the result indicated he should be a professional football player?

"Then I know something's wrong," he said, laughing. "The test has flaws."

The 2001 Heisman Trophy winner has tried pro football twice now, albeit briefly. Short stints with the Rams and Green Packers have convinced the former Nebraska quarterback that his playing days are over.

"In all honesty, I'm ready to move on," he said. "If I wanted to stick it out, I would have stuck it out. I've tried this NFL thing for two teams. I just really couldn't get excited about it. If I couldn't be passionate about it, I need to do something else."

First stop:St. Louis

The Rams drafted Crouch in the third round last year with the thought of converting him to receiver from quarterback, the position he had played since he was a little boy.

Though Crouch said all the right things before training camp, his heart wasn't into the position change. A nagging hamstring injury slowed his progress, and a vicious hit in a preseason game brought clarity to him that playing receiver was not for him. He decided to walk away, and gave back a $1.2 million signing bonus.

The Packers picked him up on waivers in April and promised him an opportunity to play quarterback. Crouch said he thought he did well in two mini camps, but coach Mike Sherman thought otherwise. Akili Smith was signed, bringing the number of quarterbacks in camp to five, and it became apparent that Crouch was a long shot to make the roster.

In a conversation with Sherman on Monday, Crouch was told he probably would be waived.

"I wanted to see if I could make a roster," he said. "If I can't make a roster, then I'm comfortable going another direction."

He's had offers to go into sales, financial planning, broadcasting and a number of other careers. He has an exercise science degree and doesn't rule out returning to school to pursue work in the medical field. He also has thought about coaching.

He said he has enough money saved from radio and television ads and other endorsements to support himself and his family for a year.

As for football, he said he doesn't think there is any offer that could lead him back.

"It isn't the money," he said. "I can tell you that much after having to give a million and a half dollars."

Crouch is fully aware of what football has meant. As a Heisman Trophy winner, he'll be a celebrity for life. What he did at Nebraska will open doors for him.

But he also makes it clear that there's more to Eric Crouch than football.

"It's been a fantastic game, and I've loved every minute of it," he said. "A lot of competition, a lot of fun, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. You can't play this game forever. Some play longer than others."

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