Eric Crouch A Most Outstanding Nebraska Football Player

Eric Crouch

Age: 34

Accolades: Record-setting Nebraska quarterback; 2001 winner of the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding college football player in the U.S.

Currently: Big Ten Network analyst; owner of Crouch Recreation

I’m most thankful for the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built through athletics – a lot of great players, teammates and coaches.

I’m thankful for the God-given ability that I have. It’s not something I asked for, but it was something that I had passion for and a drive to succeed.

There were times in my football career that I may have been close to giving up. I’m glad that I didn’t. It’s easy to give up. It’s so much of a reward when you can look back and say, “I fought through that.”

My sophomore year in college at Nebraska, I was faced with a decision that I would not be starting quarterback. I felt like I should have started. I felt like I earned the position. I was really close to either leaving Nebraska or maybe stopping football altogether. But I’m glad I had a close bond with my coaches, family and mentors who helped me get through those tough times. I’m glad I did not leave, that I accepted what my role would be.

Two weeks later, I was where I thought I would be. That’s a short window from thinking, “Man, will I ever play again?” to being compared to Johnny Rodgers on the front page of the paper. It’s unbelievable to think about.

I have a family. That’s changed me. I have a wife. That’s changed me. I still have a passion for football, but at the current time, my body is not ready for football. That’s over.

I couldn’t stay healthy with my football career. But I have a great business. I have a wonderful family. I got to experience a lot of great things with football, and maybe those things will help me with my broadcasting career.

We’re putting in 24 playgrounds on a Cheyenne reservation. These kids have nothing. By putting in playgrounds and recreational areas, it gives kids opportunities to socialize and a safe place to play, have fun and get strong without doing things that are dangerous. It feels good to be a part of building that.

I’m thankful for my mom. She was an extremely hard worker. Without that mentality, it would have been very easy to be average. My mom was over-the-top with not allowing us to be average.

My daughter sees that in me with her sometimes. I push her because I know she can do it.

The path could have been better, but looking back, there is a reason for everything. The challenges are tough, but when you look back, you kind of go, “What’s so bad?” You got through it, you learned something from it, it made you a better person. It made you a better father and a better husband.

There are a lot of curveballs in life, and I think that’s exciting now. It’s knowing when you step up to the plate, you will be able to hit anything.

I never liked baseball. I don’t know why I used that analogy. I’d hate to see me swing at a pitch. I’d probably never hit anything.

I’ve learned a lot. I’m thankful for all the challenges I was faced with because that makes you stronger. All the tough positions you get put in and you’re able to work through – it gives you more experience. I’m glad I had all those things happen. I look back on it, and there’s a reason why I was doing those things. It was to prepare me for all the other things I will be faced with in life. Who knows what those will be, but I will be ready for them.

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