Posted: 02/04/2013 8:51 PM
It was a year of learning for Windsor’s Tyrone Crawford during his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys and one of the first things he learned is that the games may end, the jersey might be doffed, but when you play for America’s Team, you never stop being a Dallas Cowboy.
It’s a 24-7 job.
“It’s like that here, Dallas, even if you went to Cabo (San Lucas on vacation),” Crawford said. “There’s places where people notice that you’re a bigger dude and they’re going to bring up the question.”
According to Crawford, the answer on those occasions is a simple one.
“You need to watch what you do and try to make good decisions, decisions that you would make when your mother’s around,” Crawford said. “As long as you make good decisions, and don’t go out and have too much fun, you should be alright.”
Crawford, 23, a six-foot-four, 285-pound defensive tackle who played his high school ball at Catholic Central, was much more than alright for the Cowboys during the 2012 campaign.
Some even suggested he might be the steal of the NFL draft.
He finished the season with 20 tackles, all but three of the coming in the Cowboys’ last seven games, including five solo tackles during Week 12 against the Washington Redskins.
“There were times where I got out there a lot,” Crawford said. “More toward the end of the year when I was more comfortable playing the position.
“My first year in the NFL, your first couple of games, you’re still getting used to it. I was going in expecting it to be really hard.
“Really, I thought it was going to be difficult all year, that I’d just keep having to learn plays, but it came easier over time as I got to know people and get more comfortable around the D line and the rest of the team.
“It was an easy process.”
Not that there weren’t difficult times to overcome.
True adversity hit the team in December when Jerry Brown, a member of the club’s practice roster, was killed in a car accident. The driver of the car, Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent, is facing intoxication manslaughter charges.
“That was really tough, actually one of the toughest things I’ve faced in football,” Crawford said of the death of Brown.
“It’s easy to overcome most things, but that was hard to overcome. He was such a great kid. We just tried to honour him the best we could.”
Crawford was also taken by surprise with post-season moves that included the dismissal of Dallas defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan.
“The change in the coaching staff at the end of the season, I thought that was a little unexpected,” he said. “It just opened my eyes to what the NFL’s all about.”
During an 8-8 season which saw the Cowboys post a five-game winning streak to get back into the playoff picture, only to come up one game short of the post-season with a final-game loss to Washington, Crawford believes that Dallas laid down a foundation for future success.
“I feel like with the camaraderie we had at the end of the year, we can do a lot of things,” Crawford said.
With the experience he’s gained, Crawford expects the same of himself.
“I feel more prepared for what I have to do and what I’m going to be doing in this off-season to be ready for the whole deal,” Crawford said. “I’m going to be more comfortable, ready to make some plays and do some good things.”
Crawford is certain the Cowboys have a bright future.
The Cowboys feel the same way about Crawford.
Last edited 02/04/2013 8:53 PM by BCMarcus
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