Aaron Crawford isn’t used to talking with the media unless something has gone horribly wrong. As the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ long snapper, Crawford enjoys virtual anonymity — despite the fact that he performs a vital function in the kicking game. In the latest in our season-long series of interviews with Ticat players and personnel, The Spectator’s Drew Edwards talks to Crawford about his introduction to the game, how he became a long snapper and his addiction to energy drinks.
Drew Edwards: What did you do for the bye week?
Aaron Crawford: I stayed around here and took time to rehab some nicks, work on some technique things, and I did a kids camp with C.J. Gable and Ray Holley. We had fun. The kids were super enthusiastic.
DE: You enjoy doing that stuff?
AC: I really do. I played a lot different sports growing up in Medicine Hat, including football, but I wasn’t really into it. Then Pinball Clemons came to a camp I was at and he was the first star I’d ever met. I was so-so on football, and he got me hooked. I was 12.
DE: So how’d you become a long snapper?
AC: I played junior football before going to university and my last year we didn’t have one, so the coaches lined everybody up and told us to throw a ball between our legs, and I got the job. Then my final year of university at St. Mary’s they needed me to do it again, but I was still just really throwing the ball between my legs. That’s when I learned the technique.
DE: Now you’re paired with Justin Medlock, who is the technician of all technicians.
AC: I always say if I can put a smile on Medlock’s face then I’m probably the best snapper in the league. He’s got a spot he wants you to hit every time and he does not accept mediocrity. It just makes me better.
DE: He acknowledges that he can be hard on his snappers.
AC: It can be a strain but I understand that it’s his job. He’s got high standards but he’s encouraging. He’ll say, ‘We had a good day but we aren’t great yet.'” He wants to be great, and that’s motivating.
DE: You sailed one over his head in Calgary.
AC: I didn’t even see it. I snapped it and was getting my block when I heard the crowd erupt — that’s never a good thing — so I just started running back towards Medlock. I watched it on film to try and figure out why. The only thing to do is forget it and make sure you do the same thing every time.
DE: Was there something you did differently?
AC: Yes. Instead of getting set and aiming, I looked to a blocking assignment and then just fired the ball when I heard the call. It was my mistake. I didn’t go through my full routine and rushed it. When you rush it, things go wrong.
DE: Medlock also says you have an energy drink problem.
AC: He laughs at me when I make my little concoction before games. It’s a little 5-Hour Energy, Monster and water. It gets me up but not too up. In my job, you need to be ready to go but not too excited, so it’s weird balance.
DE: Have you talked to Pinball since you made the CFL?
AC: I was drafted by Toronto so one of my first really big pro moments was when he came to training camp. I went over and told him that I appreciated what he’d done for me. He’s an impact on so many people, I doubt he remembered me. But it was a really cool moment.