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Rams’ Crouch to Retire From NFL

September 12, 2002

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Eric Crouch, the Heisman Trophy winner last year for Nebraska who tried to make the switch from quarterback to receiver with the St. Louis Rams, has decided to retire.

``I have given this a lot of thought,″ Crouch said in a statement released Wednesday night. ``This decision was tough and not something I took lightly.

``I have played football since I was 8 years old, and I have benefited from this wonderful game’s many opportunities, including a college education, the Heisman Trophy, and a spot on a pro football team; not to mention the many friends I have met around the world. I am so grateful.″

The third-round draft pick had a three-year contract worth $1.3 million, including a signing bonus of $395,000. It was not immediately clear how the contract would be resolved.

Rams coach Mike Martz said Wednesday night that Crouch informed him of his decision last Friday. Crouch did not make the trip to Denver for the team’s regular-season opener Sunday and has not practiced with the team since then.

Martz has closed practices for the first three weeks of the season, and the Rams had not made an announcement.

``This has caught us all by surprise,″ Martz said. ``He came in Friday and told me the news.″

Martz said the team has been in contact with Crouch’s agent, Jim Steiner of St. Louis, since Crouch decided to leave the Rams. He wouldn’t comment further on Crouch’s decision.

Martz drafted Crouch with the intention of transforming him into a secret weapon of sorts who could give the Rams’ top-ranked offense yet another dimension. But Crouch was sidelined much of the preseason with a deep thigh bruise. Last Thursday, a day before Crouch decided to quit, Martz said the budding wide receiver was ``light years away from playing.″

``He’s trying to figure out where he stands in the huddle right now,″ Martz said then. ``He has no idea what we’re doing. So it’s going to be quite some time before he’s ready to contribute.″

A day before leaving the team, Crouch gave no indication he was leaning toward quitting, although he expressed some frustration with his status on the team. Asked what reporters were missing in the closed practices, he responded: ``You’re missing me run all the scout team plays, that’s what you’re missing.″

Crouch was as much of a running threat as a passing threat in college, averaging 5.3 yards on 648 career carries _ with 59 touchdowns, 10 more than any other Division I-A quarterback.

He threw 606 passes in his college career, only 73 more than No. 1 overall pick David Carr had last season at Fresno State.

Crouch was the first Heisman Trophy winner taken by the Rams since Doug Flutie in the 11th round of the 1985 draft.

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