He got his shot, and made the most of it

Published 10:55 am Monday, September 10, 2018

For a fellow who once thought no less than the great Michael Jordan would only be an ‘average’ shooting guard as a professional, I’ll never call myself a great judge of future athletic potential. Sometimes I see flashes and glimmers of what ‘might’ come to be; but at so many other times I confess that I strike out.

Then there are those you root hard for to make it, hoping somewhere down the line they’ll catch a break or two; mostly of their own making because of faith, determination, and perseverance.

And that sums up Keion Crossen.

In case you’ve not been following, the Garysburg native made the 53-man cutdown of the NFL New England Patriots. Yes, the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, quarterbacked by no less than ‘Mr. Football’, Tom Brady.

I only saw Keion play as a high schooler the final two seasons of his career at Northampton County High School when the school was located at Conway. His former coach, George Privott, played at Hertford County High School and knows a thing or two about pro potential. Privott suited up with Curtis Deloatch, the Murfreesboro native and NC A&T Hall of Famer who was a hero of the New Orleans Saints’ first return game at the Superdome. So Privott knows a thing or two of what it takes to make it to the big stage

“He (Keion) worked hard,” Privott told me. “I’m happy to see him get this chance.”

Keion was the longest of long shots before he went to a pro workout at Wake Forest last spring. What he did there was run a 4.3 40-yard dash, something only a handful of other players did at all the other combines combined.

That kind of speed caught the eye of New England coach Bill Belichick, and may have played a role in not only Keion being a late round (7th) draft choice; but gave him staying power through training camp and the pre-season.

By his own admission, the Eagles pre-season game where he got three penalties – two for pass interference and a third which led to a touchdown – might have been the death knell for lesser players, but Keion said he went back, studied the film, and came back stronger in the final two games he participated in.

He then made the team by sweating out a stressful afternoon last Saturday on cutdown day, when even I thought he’d be talking about being happy and grateful just to have had the chance. Now he’s a little more than 24 hours from playing in his first game as a full-fledged member of the National Football League.

To make it this far is an incredible accomplishment, but Keion wants people to know he hasn’t done it alone, as he told the Gloucester (MA) Times.

“I’m a big spiritual guy and I give God praise for all the blessings he’s given me, without him I’m not able to be here,” he said. “When they interviewed me the other day that wasn’t even mentioned, and now that’s the foundation of who I am.”

Along with his family, Keion’s faith is one of the pillars of his life, and it’s one of the few things that he makes sure he carves out time for outside of football.

This week a lot’s been made of football players who “believed and who sacrificed.” That’s what Keion did, and in his own less obtrusive and quiet way.

“You can’t let the valleys get too low or the mountains get too high,” he added. “I’m focused, staying consistent and preparing for Sunday.”

Keion agreed to let the News-Herald into his thoughts this season before every week’s game; but it came with a condition: we had to include a Bible verse, of his choosing, to close the column.

I don’t know how many of his friends and family he’s flying up to Gillette Stadium so they can watch his debut, but Keion’s already defied the odds, because he always had faith tomorrow would come. Now let’s root for his first game in the NFL and hope it’s the first of many.


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.