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Crawford would rather face gator than Dolphin

Steve Yingling

As the tough-guy legend of Mike Crawford grows, so does his net worth. A day after signing a three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins, the 1992 Whittell High graduate went on a safari adventure in the Everglades.

“We trucked around and saw some alligators, including a 14-footer, some panthers, snakes and spiders,” said Nevada’s 1996 All-Big West first-team inside linebacker.

Training camp still is a ways off – July 8 – but Crawford isn’t looking forward to battling 6 foot 5 inch, 330-pound offensive lineman Richmond Webb.

“I’d rather go after a gator than one of those guys. Richmond is a pretty big dude. I’ve gone up against guys that big and the way I look at it is size isn’t everything; speed also matters,” Crawford said.

On Tuesday, the sixth-round draft choice came to terms with the Dolphins.

“Mike got good value for the his placement in the round. Based on the contract’s structure the total package was $545,000 to $550,000 in value,” said Crawford’s agent Frank Bauer of Sun West Sports in Stockton, Calif. “We’re pleased with the outcome and pleased with the selection. He has some work ahead of him back there, but we think he’s equal to the task.”

The three-year deal is contingent upon Crawford making the team, but like any rookie he has received some up-front bonus money.

Crawford declined to talk about the specifics of his contract because of an agreement with the Dolphins, but is pleased with the deal.

“I’m ready to start playing football. I wanted the contract out of the way as soon as possible and start playing,” Crawford said. “The main thing on my mind is making that team so I can have a job and continue my football career.”

Although the NFL is a major step up in competition, the demands of training camp don’t concern the 6 foot 2 inch, 235-pounder.

In fact, it may be a little easier. Nevada’s three daily preseason practices kept the players at the training facility from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Dolphins are planning two practices a day, spanning 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I don’t think it will be anymore gruesome than what I’ve been through,” he said.

Considering Crawford’s notoriety off the field, foes and teammates can’t be relishing meeting him on the field.

His draft-day leap off his parents’ home in the Tahoe Keys made him a celebrity during the Dolphins’ first mini-camp in April.

During a fishing tournament last week, Crawford tried to enliven things by doing a couple of flips off the top of the boat.

Then a Miami radio station disc jockey started digging into Crawford’s past, and almost couldn’t bear it when the 1992 all-state linebacker told him about the time a bear placed his front paws on him near Blue Lakes.

“I was on this camping trip after graduation and this bear came into our camp. We couldn’t get rid of him. We honked the horn and banged pots and pans. He was so hungry … he ate a bar of soap … he came down off the picnic table and started coming after me. I was always told not to run from a bear, so I just stood there and it put its paws on me. After about 45 seconds, he slid down from me,” he said.

Crawford finally chased the bear out of camp by chucking some rocks at it.

“It’s a story I don’t tell everyone because they don’t believe me,” he said. “People down here must think I’m some nut.”

In the meantime, the DJ has invited Crawford on his show.

On draft day, Miami coach Jimmy Johnson expressed that Crawford is the type of player that he likes for special teams. But Crawford isn’t buying into that sense of security.

“Everyone is on the same scale going in – even Dan Marino. It doesn’t make any difference if I was a good special teams player in college. I have to prove myself all over again,” he said.


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