LONDON -- This will be a hectic week for Jack Crawford.
He has already played tour guide for some Dallas Cowboys teammates and staff. He is also something of a ticket broker. And he is also trying to play defensive end again.
Born and raised in north London, Crawford can truly call this week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars a homecoming.
“I guarantee he is going to be very popular,” Dez Bryant said. “He’s the man of the town right now. I’m going to follow him around.”
“I was the first ever to get drafted out of here and that was special,” Crawford said. “I mean it’s crazy to think about it, but yeah I think I’ll get a lot of appreciation form my fellow Englishmen.”
Crawford grew up playing basketball and didn’t play football until arriving in the United States for high school. He caught the eye of Penn State and earned a scholarship. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the fifth round in 2012.
He was initially planning for a return to London with the Raiders this season, but he was among their final cuts. He signed with the Cowboys four days later.
“That was cool just how it worked out for me because people had been asking me about it for so long,” Crawford said. “In the summertime when it was announced people were talked to me and I was like, ‘You don’t understand, this is the NFL. It’s not guaranteed. I don’t know if I’m going to be on the team, don’t go and try to make plans.’ When I got released by Oakland, everybody was upset ... Even when I first (joined the Cowboys) I wasn’t sure I’d still be on the team by the time the game comes.”
Last week Crawford said he would not feel confident about his return until he got on the plane.
He already purchased 20 tickets and might need another 10 to help the requests, “but they think the tickets are free. I’m going to have to start explaining they’re not free.”
And there is no guarantee Crawford will play Sunday. He has missed the last four games with a calf injury. He only returned to practice last week, but felt that by getting through the week he has put himself in position to play.
In four games he has three tackles and a sack.
With the NFL trying to grow the game in England, Crawford can be offered up as a local kid who made it.
American football, “really wasn’t big when I was growing up,” Crawford said. “You couldn’t watch it on TV. The most you could see American football is movies. We’d watch like Any Given Sunday and people played Madden but they don’t know the rules. It was crazy. But now people understand the game. People watch it. There’s so much more awareness now. Like my friends who I grew up with and never watched it before, they’re all watching the Super Bowl, doing things for the Super Bowl. It’s like an event over there, which is crazy to me. Most of all because seeing the growth, it’s like, ‘Wow, how far it’s grown,’ and it’s going to continue to grow.”