The departure of Crouch from the Rams was anything but your typical story. A third round pick, the fastest guy on the team and a Heisman Trophy winner to boot, just hanging it up. There was a ton of speculation as to exactly why Eric left, but he said that it all boiled down to a couple of things. "The main reason behind this (leaving) was the position I was playing and the injuries that kept lingering." Crouch stated."It was one of those things (coming into the NFL) where I listened to what people had to say and receiver seemed to be the second best position for me. I was excited about it and wanted to learn that, but getting to the NFL, my body didn’t respond well to that. The injuries that I had from college kind of lingered on and they were probably more serious than I thought."
"The way I was feeling, it was too hard to continue health-wise and there was really nothing else besides that took me away from this game. I needed to get away, get healthy and gather my thoughts, because the way I was playing wasn’t up to the standards I had. I was going as hard as I could, but it wasn’t really the way I was used to playing."
The media frenzy around Eric’s sudden departure was profound and in some cases, quite extreme. Crouch was called out on talk shows, ridiculed in one article after another that he simply quit. Crouch expected that and expected it to be brought up again today and continues to disagree. "I know a lot of people are skeptical about my reasons." Eric said. "I thought it out carefully, talked with my family and it was the best decision for me. There was nothing else besides (health) that took me away from the game."
Much of the continued speculation about Eric Crouch isn’t about his health, but more about his future. The St. Louis Rams still hold the rights to Crouch, thus having the final say on whether Eric can come back or not. Crouch did make it clear though that if the NFL is in his future, it will be at the position he knows best. "My whole life, I have been a quarterback and just look at myself that way. If I do come back, it will be at quarterback."
About Eric’s return, the speculation will continue as again, Eric left nothing out there that said he wouldn’t be back, but did not commit to anything. "Football has been part of my whole life as far as I can remember." Crouch stated. "I have had a great opportunity to learn a lot about myself and the game."
"The thing I need to do is get away from it a little bit and get my health back. I am scheduled to have an ankle operation next week and I have a thigh contusion that needs to be worked on and I need to see the trainer a number of times to get back."
"It’s going to be a goal of mine to get back in shape and to feel good health-wise and to be ready to play."
||Eric Crouch addressed the press today to set the record straight on his "retirement", his current status, health-wise and his chances on making it back to the NFL.|
Though Crouch’s stay with the Rams was brief, he did have enough time to develop some relationships, mostly with coach Marx, but also got a sense of what the Rams’ program was all about. The effect that, that atmosphere wasn’t lost on him for the limited time he was there. "They have a great program and they remind me a lot of Nebraska in how they do things." Crouch stated. "One thing the Rams had that a lot of teams don’t have is a locker room atmosphere. The players were very warm and took you in and made you feel like you were wanted a part of that program. I can’t say enough great things about the program. I was really fortunate to be a part of that."
Eric’s situation resembles (to a degree) that of his former team. Though in NU’s case, it could be the pride that hurts more than the body. As many Huskers have chimed in with their reasons for the recent Husker collapse, Eric voiced his opinion, but it’s one entirely more positive. "I feel that this is a great program." Eric said. "It’s obvious that they are struggling, but I have a lot of confidence that the players and coaches can pull through."
"This isn’t not that much of a different team than last year and they understand that they were in a national championship not 9 months ago. They can play at that level and they have to find a way to win and find some leadership."
"Their backs are against the wall and we’ll find out, but I have a lot of faith in this program, how the coaches have made changes and you have to believe that those things will work."
As for as Crouch’s health is concerned, there’s little to go on in terms of a time frame to when he will be back to his health prior to the injuries and after his ankle surgery. With all the speculation as to why Eric left, there will be none if he comes back. Though Crouch side stepped the issue of how definite a return could be, the former Husker led many to believe that he would, simply stating, "I haven’t ruled anything out."
You can reach Steve Ryan at email@example.com or 402-730-5619