Ex-Warrior returns to NFL as a Viking | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ex-Warrior returns to NFL as a Viking

Steve Yingling

Just when linebacker Mike Crawford was about to return to school, the Minnesota Vikings took the textbooks out of his hands and inserted a playbook.

The former Whittell High all-state football player was signed by the NFL’s Vikings on Friday. Minnesota has 10 linebackers in training camp, which opened Monday in Mankato, Minn.

Crawford was unavailable for comment on Monday.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Crawford has been trying to return to the NFL since the Miami Dolphins released him in 1999.

“I’m sure he’ll make the best of it,” said his former high school coach John Summers. “When I talked to him on Fourth of July he seemed pretty disappointed that it might be over. He was just hoping that someone would give him another chance.”

Crawford had informed Summers that he planned on returning to the University of Nevada to work on another degree in the fall.

The Dolphins selected Crawford in the sixth round in the 1997 draft following a meteoric college career that saw him go from a field goal retriever as a freshman to Las Vegas Bowl MVP as a senior.

Crawford, 26, made four tackles in seven games for the Dolphins during his rookie season but an undiagnosed abdominal injury prevented him from stepping up his play in 1998 when he was activated for all 16 games.

Two surgeries did nothing to alleviate the pain in Crawford’s abdomen. The Dolphins cut Crawford loose in 1999, leaving him time to heal and consider another career.

“It’s all a timing thing,” Summers said. “Teams need linebackers at certain times and don’t need them at other times. Last year, there probably wasn’t a demand for players at that particular spot.”

However, last winter Vince McMahon concocted a World Wrestling Federation version of football – the XFL – giving a healthy Crawford another opportunity as a pro athlete. He started the season as a backup linebacker for the Las Vegas Outlaws, but quickly worked his way into a starting spot.

“This is my life, man,” said Crawford after signing with the Outlaws last January. “I haven’t found a new career since playing for the Dolphins and it’s because my whole purpose is to play football.”

Note: Defensive back Don Morgan, a former Wolf Pack teammate also is in camp with the Vikings.

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