FOOTBALL: The misunderstood Channing Crowder

As the Gator Nation knows, Channing Crowder has been in a couple off-field incidents that probably made him out to be some sort of thug that seems to find trouble lurking around every corner. Although he has been an absolute warrior for the Gators on the field, his off-field antics took some luster off his excellent football career thus far. However, things are not always what they seem to be. It's my personal opinion that Channing is quite misunderstood in both outside and inside UF circles.

For instance, at the recent Florida Gator's Women's Football Clinic, many fans were treated to a different side of Crowder that isn't usually seen in the media. At the clinic, the ladies are given an opportunity to address a panel of football players, of which Crowder was a part of, and their questions are often bold. One of the ladies asked, "Is it true that if you have sex the night before the game that you lose your oomph?" Crowder was caught completely off-guard and ran off the stage and hid behind Coach Zook so he didn't have to answer it. The audience of 600 roared with laughter, but it was very apparent Crowder was quite shocked by the question!

At the youth football camp he stood in front of some 140 young kids and told them all he calls his mother, "Mommy." Most males would never have the gumption to admit such. The kids went for a solid 15 minutes with question after question and he answered every of them one with care and wisdom from his own experiences. He answered questions about his B average in school. He told them all how important it was to listen to their parents and do well in school. As Coach Zook rolled his eyes, he talked to them about not getting in trouble. Channing was doing his part in trying to make a difference to these kids. Again, this is a part of Channing Crowder we don't see.

Channing has always spent his past off-season time doing volunteer work. During a recent conversation about different types of volunteering, he was overheard saying, "Yeah, but I don't like to go where they play in the air conditioning and all the kids come up to you and want your autograph. Send me to the place where the kids just look at you when you walk in and say, 'That man's a balla'." Obviously, he likes to help the kids who need the most help and be where he can have the best impact on their lives.

In another anecdote I'd like to share, while I was driving down the road, Channing pulls up right next to me in his car. I'm in my new pick-up truck and as we pull up to a stoplight he revs his engine loudly to get my attension. I look over and smile once I see that it's him. He then motions for me to roll down my window. As soon as I do, he asks, "That thang gotta Hemi?" I cracked up big-time. This is the Crowder that I know - the kid that likes to have fun and enjoys sharing it with everyone else.

Many a football fan in us loves to see Channing taking the heads off of running backs. We also love to see him jawing at the opposition and letting them know that they have only just begun the war. It's obvious he loves the smack talk. A lady at the Football Clinic asked the panel of players, "So, what do you say when you guys talk smack on the field?" Every player turned their heads toward Channing and one tossed him the microphone. Laughter erupted everywhere. He replies, "I just tell them how well he is playing today and how nice I think he is." The crowd erupts again. This is the Channing Crowder I know. You'll never see it on the field, but at least you know a little bit what he's like in person like those of us on the inside do.

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