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Crowder's smartest move leaving savage NFL behind

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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Channing Crowder is a man who likes to play with danger, but he may have put himself out on the thinnest limb there is.

The apparently former Miami Dolphins linebacker, who was released on the first day of Fishie camp, announced his retirement from smashing his body into others for money Tuesday, giving as his reasons financial security and a desire to be with his family.

This is known as playing the ace. This is also known as juggling damp dynamite.

Did Channing Crowder get smart enough to walk away from football or just get turned off by his experience with the Dolphins? (US Presswire)  
Did Channing Crowder get smart enough to walk away from football or just get turned off by his experience with the Dolphins? (US Presswire)  
"I woke up, saw my pregnant wife, and all the teams talking to me are way up north, and I said, 'I don't want to do it,'" Crowder said on the Sid Rosenberg Show, a local jock chat gig. "I looked at my wife and said, 'Nah, I'm going to be a family man now.'"

But unwilling to leave fate-tempting at that, he followed with this:

"I've got plenty of money saved," he said. "It's just not worth it."

Sounds like a man who is done with football, and for the sake of his cerebral cortex, we hope he is right.

But here's the problem. What if he discovers that he actually does like football more than he realized? What if he didn't have enough socked away? How does he unretire after this?

"Honey, I've thought about this, and I've concluded that me running into other people for cash is actually more along the lines of what I see for myself than the family."

That's not a conversation that ends well, ever. That's a conversation that actually ends as often as not with an iron skillet as a hat.

Now we don't pretend to know what Crowder's relationship with his wife is; we have no reason to think that it isn't utterly healthy and normal and even kind of admirable. Not many men would even entertain such a notion at such a formative age.

But athletes undo retirements on an essentially hourly basis. The money's too good, or someone wants them, or they're hooked on the adrenalin, or they just like running into things.

And either Channing Crowder was so turned off by the Dolphins that he hates the game ("They send the little peons down to get you," he said of the process by which the Dolphins released him), or he is a 27-year-old of unusual conviction. And by that, we mean he holds a coherent thought and plan of action for more than a weekend.

But if he does get the itch again, because most athletes get shown the door before they want to use it, he has to go to his wife and perhaps newborn child and say, "I've just had an epiphany. You're second."

He may not put it in those terms, but that's how most spouses hear it. And no, that's not gender-specific. When "I want to spend more time with you" morphs into "I want to spend less time with you," that doesn't play no matter how your chromosomes entwine.

So Channing Crowder had better be sure that football is yesterday's gig, and that his media dreams will become a reality. Of course he wants to get into the media; nothing heavy has ever been lifted by a media person, and in many cases heavy includes an idea.

But at least he has a backup plan, which is the whole idea of all those rookie seminars the leagues love to trumpet as sufficient to a young man's future needs. Let's hope it works out because, well, why the hell not?

And because that "Oh my God I miss wearing a shiny helmet and driving it into someone else's shiny helmet" notion leads to a conversation that will end up with someone shouting at someone else. A lot. And nobody needs that to start the day. Or end it. Or interrupt lunch, either. Because in life, like sports, winning the silver often feels just like a disqualification.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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