Eric Crouch and Sam Keller: A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Big Red NetworkSenior Writer IJune 2, 2008

One played in some of the best Husker times. The other played in some of the worst. In both cases, Eric Crouch and Sam Keller continue to pursue professional quarterbacking opportunities with mixed results.

News of the weekend is that former Husker quarterback Sam Keller has signed to play with the LA Avengers of the Arena Football League. Who could have guessed that this much discussed and talented player would end up in the Arena League?

Maybe I am biased toward Husker players. Or, I’m naive to the ways of the NFL. Or I’m possibly smitten by some of Keller’s games while at ASU and NU. Maybe it is all three.

I’m just surprised that he couldn’t find his way on to an NFL roster or even in to the Canadian Football League. Though, I couldn’t tell you if the CFL is better or worse than the Arena League these days.

The Arena League isn’t exactly a terrible gig. After all, they are still being paid pretty well to do a job that most of us would probably do for free. And, the league’s arrangement with ESPN has created more exposure and better pay for the franchises and players. Maybe Keller saw this as his best option. (Hey, it worked for Kurt Warner, right?) Or maybe playing in LA is more suitable to Keller’s lifestyle. Who knows?

In any case, I would have to think that Keller sees his chance with arena ball as a chance to prove himself and find some opportunity with the NFL. It’s tough to get that opportunity. So, if he ever earns it, then by all means I hope he makes the most of it. That brings me to the topic of a different former Husker signal caller, Eric Crouch.

Opportunity Lost or Given Up?
Apparently the spring football league that Crouch has signed up to play for has folded. So Crouch, the league’s poster boy, is left with few opportunities for his latest comeback as a quarterback.

It’s been tough to watch Crouch chase his chance to continue playing; especially considering he was given a perfectly good opportunity in 2002.Unlike Keller, Crouch was drafted in the 4th round of the NFL draft, though it was to play wide receiver. The St. Louis Rams gave him a seven-figure bonus just to sign his name. But, he preferred to be taking the snap. So he quit, and they made him give it all back. He’s been bouncing around ever since.

Don’t get me wrong. I respected and cheered for Crouch as much or more than anybody when he was at NU. He carried the teams he played for, and is a deserving Heisman Trophy winner. But, that has nothing to do with what can only be described as an unfortunate series of choices for his professional career.

Hindsight is sometimes tough to face in all of its perfection. If Crouch had known how it would shake out for him after quitting the NFL, or how playing wide receiver would work out for another option quarterback, like Antwan Randel-El, he might have stuck with it.

Instead, today I suspect that if Crouch had one piece of advice to give to young Mr. Keller today, it would be,“Save some money, young man. It’s a short ride.”