The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

The Invisible Captain

A snapshot of raw emotion frozen against the backdrop of a double digit lead, Tyler Crawford looks every part the team captain.  Six foot three with muscular arms and piercing eyes, Crawford strides powerfully up and down the basketball court.  A brief 45 second span in a 75-63 Georgetown Hoya win against the Seton Hall Pirates, Crawford shows all the passionate play his teammates have come to expect from the senior.  Going up strong for a rebound only to have it slapped away by a flying opponent, Crawford lets out a guttural yell as he thunders back to the ground.  Fellow captain Roy Hibbert describes Crawford as “intense”; in the raucous Verizon Center the intensity is visible to all in the crowd. 

The Saturday afternoon victory over Seton Hall offers a glimpse of Tyler Crawford.  With scarce playing time crowds rarely see Crawford’s intensity, yet it is pervasive.  Senior co-captain John Wallace explains “Doesn’t matter if it’s a walk through, practice, no matter what it is he’s one of the guys always vocal, always at the front of the line in drills, always trying to lead by example.”  Crawford is a natural leader, “Hes been our captain I believe since our freshmen year.  I mean even ifs he’s not the title.” Hibbert claims.   Hustle and determination are the strongholds of Crawford’s game and teammates have the scars as proof.  Coach John Thompson III dubbed Crawford “Bam Bam” for physical play.  Wallace agrees “He stays very physical, you just have to be ready to match his intensity every day.”  Even the “Bam Bam” moniker stems from Crawford’s aggressive corporeal approach.  At a team weightlifting session there was a hurdle set up which players needed to clear while lifting weights; Crawford cleared the hurdle but upon landing split the wood in two.  “Nobody but Bam Bam” Coach Thompson declared. “Would do something like that.” 

The day before the Seton Hall game Crawford leisurely walks into the lobby of Georgetown University’s venerable McDonough Gymnasium.  Still 6’3”, the well chiseled arms hidden beneath a grey Hoyas t-shirt, the courtside scowl from years of hard work traded in for an infectious smile that is playful yet mature.  The smile is surrounded by a young man’s attempt at a goatee; whiskers of varying lengths, more needed for completion.  A sign that despite the added pressure of basketball at the highest collegiate level, Crawford is still a college student.   

Crawford’s work ethic is something he learned from his parents who taught him never be satisfied with what you have.  “No matter if you are on top of things just always find ways to get better” Crawford says as he reverently glances around the McDonough lobby.  The trophies, plaques and artwork decorating the lobby are not lost on Crawford; a young man genuinely thrilled by his surroundings.  Relaxed in Georgetown sweatpants and sneakers, Crawford ambles throughout McDonough as if it were home.  Considering Crawford’s practice habits, he proudly exclaimed “I work out before practice”, he may log more hours at the old gym than he does his apartment.  A self proclaimed Georgetown fan since he was five years old, Crawford eliminated all other schools from contention once Georgetown expressed interest as a high school junior.  “I love this place, I mean I look at all the guys that’s been here before me,” Crawford glowingly spouts. “This is like an empire, like I’m apart of something bigger than me.”   

Crawford is a vital component in the renaissance of that empire.  Last year he served as team captain on a team that returned Georgetown to NCAA Final Four glory for the first time since 1985. “I was extremely fortunate,” says Thompson, “This program was extremely fortunate to have him here.”   The team also won the Big East regular season title and the Big East Tournament, a feat not accomplished concurrently since the 1988-89 season.  Understandably Crawford has big plans for the 2007-08 season, “All teams have the goal to win the national championship.” Crawford admits. “My whole thing is I have a problem with greed, I want to go out on top so nobody can ever question what my team did.” 

Not that everything is a joy for Crawford, who reads the Bible daily for inspiration.  Crawford reluctantly acknowledges his lack of playing time troubles him, but is quick to point out that he has absolute faith in any decision made by the coaching staff, “I’m cool with whatever Coach thinks is best for this team.  Sitting on the bench watching and getting the team involved or me playing forty minutes, you see what Coach has done each year we’ve gotten better.”  When bluntly asked if the thought of transferring had ever crossed his mind Crawford responds honestly, “To say that I haven’t would be a lie”,  but one glance at the Big East Championship banner Crawford’s 2006-07 Hoya team was able to raise in the McDonough rafters erases any such thoughts.  “To put another banner on the wall, I did that.”  Crawford beams, his thoughts no doubt drifting back to the euphoria of the moment and the timelessness of that accomplishment, “As a team and as an individual it’s a great point.  You can’t really describe it.”

 Teammates go to great lengths to describe Crawford, including 2006-07 co-captain Jeff Green, now playing with the Seattle SuperSonics.  Green was quoted last year as saying Crawford “Makes everybody play there hardest” and Patrick Ewing Jr explained Crawford epitomizes a team captain, “He’s a leader, he’s a friend.”  Regardless of his on court role throughout his Hoya career – Crawford’s career minutes per game average is less than 8 minutes – he is confident his basketball career will continue.  When asked where he expects to be in 5 years Crawford redoubtably responds “Playing basketball”; the mere suggestion of something else deemed ludicrous.  “I’m one of those guys that nothings ever impossible.” Crawford says, the steely glint of intensity returning to his eyes.  The stern look of determination that accompanies the bombastic statement removes any trace of hyperbole, “I can’t ever stop what I love to do.”   

There are thoughts of a career in law enforcement; both the FBI and Secret Service interest Crawford, though a more fulfilling career path has been suggested.  “People always joke with me and say ‘Tyler, you should coach the game of basketball’.” Crawford recants, “We’ll see what happens but hopefully I can stay well connected and find a way into a coaching job.”  Coach Thompson thinks Tyler will succeed no matter where he goes upon graduation, including coaching, “If he chooses to go into it I think he’d be successful.” 

On Crawford’s left triceps tattooed in black ink is 2 Timothy 1:1, the passage he most often recites “Be not thou therefore ashamed”.  There is no shame for Crawford, regardless of playing time or personal accolades.  Thompson explained “His caring and his commitment and his work ethic and his selflessness is something that makes him a special person.”  

Perhaps most effectual is the coach’s simple eloquence to sum Crawford, “He is the best.”  In an era of athletic blather, the simplest compliments seem the most apt.  For Tyler Crawford, the unashamed team captain, who needs visibility?


2 Responses to “The Invisible Captain”

  1. […] unbridledpragmatist wrote a fantastic post today on “Minutes Donât Make the Man”Here’s ONLY a quick extractTeammates go to great lengths to describe Crawford, including 2006-07 co-captain Jeff Green, now playing with the Seattle SuperSonics. Green was quoted last year as saying Crawford “Makes everybody play there hardest” and Patrick Ewing … […]

  2. I really enjoyed that article. It was very well written.

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