From the moment wide receiver Michael Crabtree decided to leave Texas Tech for the NFL, he’s been scrutinized. Crabtree didn’t want to play for the Raiders, had a posse, was a diva, rubbed his new teammates the wrong way and almost cried in front of 49ers coach Mike Singletary.
Crabtree disputes all those claims — according to Crabtree, his adjustment to the NFL has been pain-free.
Things started before the draft when Crabtree arrived with a posse at ESPN’s studios for a day of interviews, and furthered the reputation he had for acting like he was the best player in the world.
“Not at all,” Crabtree said regarding his time in Bristol, Conn, where ESPN is headquartered. “I just don’t do stuff like that. I try to stay positive. I’m used to people saying bad things. But when I was at ESPN, I did every show. I don’t know how these things get out like that.”
The Raiders passed on Crabtree, but not because of anything the player did; though, during a NFL.com chat, Crabtree said he didn’t want to play for the Raiders. Oakland officials (well, Al Davis) thought the speed of Maryland wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey was better suited for the team’s offense. Coach Tom Cable has since defended the draft selection.
So the 49ers drafted Crabtree, bad foot and all, with the 10th pick.
Shortly after that, during an organized team activity walk-through, Singletary noticed Crabtree — who had surgery on his injured foot on March 4 — doing some light running and asked him if doctors had cleared him for that activity. Crabtree responded that the trainers had recently taken the boot off his foot, and that he was just walking around.
According to Crabtree, Singletary said that was fine, and simply cautioned the receiver to be careful. Crabtree heeded that advice, walked to the sidelines and watched the rest of the practice with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan.
But somehow, a story came out stating that Singletary made Crabtree cry by telling him to get off the field.
“Anybody knows me, knows I’ve never cried,” Crabtree said. “I don’t understand where this stuff comes from. Say I’m passionate about football. I don’t cry. I never had. I don’t know who said what but Michael Crabtree does not cry.”
It kept going for Crabtree, who was supposedly late for a team meeting, a mistake that angered Singletary so much he forced players to run laps.
“Not true,” Crabtree said. “Nobody had to run because I was late for a meeting. That’s crazy. No. I’ve never been late to a meeting.”
Crabtree said his foot shouldn’t cause him any more problems, and when training camp starts later this month, he’ll be ready. He wants to be there the first day of camp, but hasn’t agreed to the financial terms of his contract with the 49ers yet.
His first NFL offseason was interesting, though, especially for a man who has never played in the league.
“I’m loving it right now,” Crabtree said. “It’s a challenge. I’m ready to play football now and put all that stuff behind me.”
Spencer faced the challenge of replacing a popular veteran who often mentored younger players — and occasionally complained about playing time.
“I’m going to miss Greg,” said Spencer, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2007 out of Purdue. “Whenever you have a veteran player like that who knows so much, and has so much to give, you will miss that kind of stuff.”
The offseason has been turbulent for Spencer. In January, he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct while leaving a bar in Indianapolis. Spencer apologized to the team and had the charges dismissed.
“Extremely disappointed,” Spencer said of his actions that night. “That’s not my type of personality.That’s not my characteristics. I’ve never been in any of that stuff before and it was real upsetting. You like to clean it up and I’ve moved past it.”
The Cowboys need Spencer to become a threat on the pass rush to complement DeMarcus Ware. If not, there will problems for the team that led the league in sacks last season with 59.