NFL star tackles dolphins

It is not everyday that a famous
NFL player comes to these shores. It is even rarer for a star from South Florida to visit here in search of fish.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing
Crowder was in Cayman last week around the 2010 Cayman Islands International
Fishing Tournament.

Crowder, 26, came along with his
fiancée Aja Wright, 23. Both were guests of noted marine artist Guy Harvey. All
three were at the awards ceremony at the Ramada Grand Caymanian resort last Tuesday.
The Atlanta
native talked about his experience in Cayman.

“This is my first vacation on the
island,” Crowder said. “I came before with the Miami Dolphins to do football
camps and talk to some schools here.

“I went fishing with Guy and some
locals. I had an amazing time out here. I caught some big dolphin and some
small fish and it was a good opportunity.”

Crowder caught dolphin alongside
his fiancée aboard local boat Strikeforce under the watchful eyes of Charles
Ebanks and Captain Chris Briggs.

The former University of Florida Gator
actually came to Cayman due to his presence at a Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
auction. Harvey,
54, explained that situation and talked about his connection to Crowder.

“I have, of course, known about
Channing since he started playing pro football but I only met him at my
foundation’s fund-raiser last October at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.

“He won a package trip to Grand Cayman at that auction which included a day out
with me (fishing and sand bar experience) plus lunch at my Island Grill restaurant
and a personalized gallery tour. He did not actually come for the tournament but
his timing was great and so we brought him to the event where he met fellow anglers,
Miami Dolphins fans and Premier Bush.”

During the off-season Crowder’s
position on the Miami Dolphins has been up for debate. Miami
acquired linebackers Tim Dobbins from San Diego,
Karlos Dansby from Arizona
and A.J. Edds in the draft.

Statistically Crowder had a
mediocre season last year with 52 tackles, one sack and one interception in 13
games played. At 6’2 250lbs he had a career year in 2008 with 113 tackles and
one forced fumble.

The Miami media raised those facts to Crowder earlier
this year. At that time he stated: “I don’t care. They’ve brought a lot of
great linebackers in since I’ve been here and I’ve played with a lot of great
ones. I always look at it as just more toys for me to be out there with, more
talent for me to play with.”

Crowder did not get into that here but
touched on the parallels between fishing and football.

“Football pays the bills but
recreational-wise fishing is up there,” Crowder said. “I’ve been fishing for 21
years starting from when I was five. It kept me out of trouble and now it’s a
love of mine.

“It’s so hard, competitive and
gives a great feeling, especially when you catch something. It takes my
stresses away while offering me a lot of the same feelings as with football.

“I got a boat and everything down
in Miami. I
love fishing. Before the season starts I’ll come back and enjoy the place. The
people here are so nice and I find Cayman is not so Americanized. For example
the Bahamas is Miami to me.

“I love the Caribbean,
I love it here and I’m definitely coming back. I might move here when I retire.”

Harvey was left impressed
with Crowder’s commitment to fishing.

“Channing is a very keen and
proficient angler but has never caught a marlin so I think he will be back
sooner than later,” Harvey
said. “He has been to Grand Cayman before and
his presence here as an angler is great for us.”

Sport Story

Back row, Aja Wright and Channing Crowder. Kneeling is Charles Ebanks
Photo: Submitted