London-born defensive Jack Crawford calls time on career 'before the game retires' him

The Arizona Cardinal star played in the league for more than a decade.

The 33-year-old was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2012 and went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans.

Crawford - arguably Britain's best export in the game - signed for the Arizona Cardinals last year but was unable to play, being placed on injured reserve before the start of the season.

"It's been a rollercoaster, an unbelievable journey," Crawford said. "As a player, I think you truly don't appreciate it until you're in this position and realise this is it."

In all, Crawford played in 109 games, starting 35, across his nine full seasons in the league. He recorded 165 tackles, 18 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, 40 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles.

Crawford said the decision to retire had been a tough one, but he was grateful to do it on his own terms.

"Coming off a year of injury, it was especially hard, but there's no easy way to call it a day," he said. "Look at Tom Brady - he's been doing it for 20 years and has just won a Super Bowl and he still can't call it a day…

"It was important to me to retire on my own terms, to retire from the game before the game retires me."

Having grown up in Kilburn, Crawford moved to New Jersey as a teenager dreaming of an NBA career, but took up American football in high school and found his calling - earning a scholarship at Penn State University before being selected by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft.

After two seasons in Oakland, Crawford signed for the Cowboys and played at Wembley against the Jacksonville Jaguars in his first season - registering a sack in front of friends and family four Underground stations from home.

"I would say that was probably my most memorable play," said Crawford. "To do it front of family in London and lots of my friends, they all came out to support me, and to get that sack, it was pure effort and it was like destiny playing back here in my home town."

After three years in Dallas, Crawford joined the Falcons on a three-year contract in 2017 and enjoyed his best season in 2018, starting 11 games and appearing in all 16. He had one season in Tennessee before signing for Arizona.

Crawford revealed he had been able to enjoy some of the trappings of the NFL lifestyle, recalling some wild nights out with the Cowboys, but said he had taken more from the low points in his career than the highs.

"I wouldn't say I have regrets," he said. "I think my career might have taken a different path had I been introduced to some coaches earlier than I was, but that's hindsight, that's life.

"I had some lows, some really low lows and some high highs. That's football. It's a rollercoaster. I think the lows are just as important, maybe more important than the highs.

"I wouldn't trade a moment of my career for any other."

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