Carl Crawford has family connection in the draft

LOS ANGELES -- Carl Crawford had never met his distant cousin, J.P. Crawford, until this year, but he did a little research and learned that he was, indeed, a member of the same family.

J.P. Crawford, a shortstop from Lakewood High, was projected to be a first-round pick and went No. 16 overall to the Philadelphia Phillies in Thursday's Major League Baseball draft.

Once he learned he was related, Carl Crawford invited his 18-year-old cousin to a game and met with him at Dodger Stadium earlier this season. He said he gave him a bit of advice about the draft.

"Just enjoy the day, because something good is probably going to happen," Crawford said.

Of course, that's easy for Carl to say, because in 1999, he was perfectly willing to go play quarterback at Nebraska unless a team met his price. He said the Cornhuskers had let it be known they had never lost a football player to the baseball draft, so he slid all the way to the second round before the Tampa Bay Rays took him. He signed for $1.25 million.

He has, at times, wondered how life would have been different had he gone to play football. Nebraska played in the 2002 BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl. Had Crawford gone to college, he might have been the option quarterback in that game instead of Eric Crouch.

Then again, he hasn't regretted his decision often. By the time his current contract expires after the 2017 season, Crawford will have made about $175 million. The average NFL career lasts 3 1/2 years.