July 16th, 2024

Crawford remains optimistic during Stamps’ losing season


By Lethbridge Herald on October 4, 2023.

Graham Kelly 

INSIDE THE CFL

The Calgary Stampeders have lost nine of their last eleven games and are likely to miss the play-offs for the first time since 2004. Medicine Hat’s Aaron Crawford has, as usual been error free in carrying out his duties as the Red and White’s long snapper. Cowboy kicker Rene Parades leads the league in field goals made. Throughout his distinguished 10- year career in the CFL Crawford, has never experienced a season like this one. He had great success at Crescent Heights High School. His junior team folded in mid-season and he went through one losing campaign at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. His Ti-Cat teams were under .500 three times but made the post season twice. Although his Stampeders are struggling with a record of 4-11 , he remains optimistic.

“I’ve been on losing teams before and we’ve still turned it around and made the play-offs. We’re not out of the woods yet, we’re still in the running.” When I’ve visited Aaron in the club house after a loss, we ‘d shake our heads in disbelief because we believe the Stampeders are a very talented team. “It’s hard to believe,” he says.

Losing wears you down, makes you dispirited. You work your tail off with no reward. Still, Crawford loves football and looks forward to going to work every day.

“Absolutely,” he enthused. “I still love it!”

I asked him what important life lessons he’s learned from football, “ Oh, probably fighting through adversity. Keep going when you’re not on the roster, or injured. You’ve got to keep working.” He’s earned a PHD in life lessons this campaign.

He’s always demonstrated persistence and tenacity. He was drafted as a linebacker by Toronto in 2012, released, signed by Saskatchewan, released, signed and released by Winnipeg and Hamilton, finally signing as a free agent by the Ti-Cats Sept. 3, 2014. They lost the Grey Cup to Calgary two months later. He moved close to home by signing with the Stamps three years ago.

After all those rejections, a lesser man would have given up. “I sought out opportunities. I went to an open try-out in Ottawa. I put it out there. I showed I could play different positions, that I was athletic, that I could pick up my plays. I was put in different spots just about every team I went to. I just worked away hoping I could find my way in some how, get my foot in the door somewhere.”

Medicine Hat High grad Dan Federkil enjoyed a pro career with Calgary thanks to the late Cal Murphy converting him from a defensive lineman to offence. Dan did so well he got a Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts and a Grey Cup ring with the Stamps. Crawford adapted also, learning to become a long snapper.

“In university I did it for a couple of games when we had injuries. I’ve always been, like, after practice throwing a few back there, something I kind of liked to fool around with but never took seriously. Once I got released from Toronto, I started telling teams I could long snap. But I didn’t really have the right technique. I was snapping with one hand. Once I made it to Hamilton, they were telling me I needed to use two hands. I learned from Randy Chevier how to grip the ball and how to throw it back. So, yeah, I had to work through the process. I played other positions as well. They had an injury to a long snapper and said, ‘you’re the guy’. I started working on it like it was my first job. It started becoming easier and I got pretty decent at it.” Indeed he did. His Ti-Cat coach June Jones who coached in the NFL for many years, said he was the best long snapper he had ever seen.

Except for some bumps and bruises, he’s been relatively injury free, except for 2017 when he tore his ACL and Meniscus. The way back was difficult but he persevered through a difficult rehab process and has been fine since. His warm personality and ready smile belie the fact he is one tough individual. He is a tremendous young man, a credit to his terrific parents Guy and Jenny Crawford.

He’s 37. When will he retire? “When nobody wants me.”

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