Crouch calls criticism from Martz a 'low blow'

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Criticism from Rams coach Mike Martz that he was out of shape and not ready to commit to professional football was a low blow, 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch said.

At the same time, Crouch hinted that he may not be ready to return to the sport.

"To go back to playing football for a living would be a huge commitment and sacrifice for my family," Crouch told the Lincoln Journal Star in a story published Monday.

Crouch was a third-round draft pick as a receiver for the Rams, but he was put on injured reserve with a hamstring injury before the regular season. He retired on Sept. 11.

Last week, Martz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Crouch, a quarterback for the University of Nebraska, was out of shape and shocked at how hard receivers worked.

Rams president of football operations, Jay Zygmunt, said he wondered if Crouch understood the physical and emotional commitment that has to be made to the game.

"I felt what the Rams said about me this week was a low blow," Crouch told the Journal Star on Sunday.

"I think they are upset that they had a third-round pick who didn't stay with the team," Crouch said.

Crouch said he had believed he could become a wide receiver, play defense or running back in the NFL.

"I found it wasn't for me and I really wanted to play quarterback and quarterback is the way I want to return to football," he said.

Crouch said he has heard from the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League and from Arena and NFL Europe teams.

"You have one or two great seasons somewhere else and you're back in the top league," he said.

Martz said he would be willing to give Crouch another shot, but only at receiver, not quarterback.

But Crouch said, "I'm not interested in that right now and I honestly do have a lot of choices to make for my future. Right now, I'm with my family and I'm happy. I'm making enough to live on and that's good.

"To go back to playing football for a living would be a huge commitment and a sacrifice for my family," he said.

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