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In an unusual way, we learned of the retirement of long-time Cowboy Tyrone Crawford

The Cowboys are losing one of their longest-tenured players.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It probably wasn’t meant to be announced in the way it was on Thursday. Generally something like this, a retirement, for a player who has been with the organization for so long, is announced in his own way. Then again, maybe for Tyrone Crawford, this was his way.

During the middle of Mike McCarthy’s press conference on Thursday, the coach let the cat out of the bag. Versatile defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was retiring from the game.

“Tyrone came to me right away, in the exit interview process,” McCarthy said. “He’s going to retire. He’s going to be in the area and he lives right down the road, and I’ve seen him a couple of times since.”

Crawford came to Dallas in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Boise State. He was at the vanguard of the Boise-State-to-the-Cowboys train that still goes on today. He had the versatility to play either as a defensive end or as a defensive tackle, and the Cowboys used that ability to the maximum.

It was his breakout play at defensive tackle in 2014 (three sacks, 14 QB hits, six TFLs) that earned him a five-year, $45 million deal based on potential, and that deal led to a lot of issues for Crawford among the fanbase. At the time, that was a lot of money for a defensive tackle, and just like today, outsized contracts lead to outsized expectations. Thus, Crawford was oft-criticized for not creating the stats and splash plays that were coveted by all. His best sack season only had 5.5 sacks, and those 14 QB hits in 2014 were never matched again.

But Crawford was an extremely important part of the Cowboys defensive line because of his ability to play inside or outside. Injury at one of the defensive end spots? Just pop Crawford in there. Needs some push from the interior of the line? Pop Crawford in there.

Injuries robbed Crawford of essentially two seasons in his career, including the 2019 season where he only played in four games. He returned last season for all 16 games, but the production had begun to plummet. In 2020, his cap hit ($9.1 million) was so over-priced for the return provided that it seemed inevitable that he and the Cowboys would part ways. The only question was whether he would retire or try to catch on with another team in free agency. That has seemingly been answered although we haven’t heard from Crawford himself.

He’s not the leader in games played for the Cowboys, not the leader in any statistical category, won’t be a candidate for the Ring of Honor or any other accolade, and won’t have the sendoff reserved for the Cowboys elite. Instead, Crawford will quietly pack up his locker and move on to the next phase of his life.

As fans, we should salute his effort and everything he gave to the Cowboys. It was a solid career and a success for a third-round pick. Enjoy your retirement, Tyrone Crawford.

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