Former Jets linebacker Bob Crable's career didn't begin or finish how he would have imagined.
Chosen in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Crable's rookie season was interrupted after two games by a 57-day-long player's strike.
"All we knew, and I'm talking about the rookies, this is what the other players told us we should do and we did it. The strike sucked, quite honestly," Crable said. "And not just for me, but there were other guys he did this with as well, but (veteran linebacker) Lance Mehl was a godsend for me.
"I came in as a No. 1 and guys were giving me grief. It was probably a little bit more of a stressful time than I was anticipating. But Lance came over and said, 'Hey, just don't worry about those guys. Just do what you do and I'll try to run a little cover for you and see what we can do.' He was the one who kind of broke the ice, because once he accepted me, guys like (veteran linebackers) Greg Buttle and Stan Blinka, those guys accepted me, as well."
The Jets would post a 6-3 record during the strike-shortened season and travel to Cincinnati, Crable's hometown, for a first-round playoff game.
"That was actually the first game I started at middle linebacker. We were moving our linebackers and they wound up putting me in and playing most of the game, and I had a decent game," Crable said. "I think I had to get 18, 20, 25 tickets, I don't know how many I had to get for family and friends. I had a whole contingent at the stadium. It was a lot of fun.
"And another thing, the Bengals had actually expressed some interest in drafting me, as well. Obviously, that didn't work out. But hey, home is home and it's always good to be home and be in a situation where you play around people who know you."
Over the next couple seasons, Crable and his teammates got to know each other and, well, Mehl was on to something. The veteran linebackers would not only accept Crable, they all actually became buddies.
"One of my fondest memories is, and this goes back to my first two or three years when Greg Buttle was still with the club, we would walk out to the field and we would sing barbershop quartet (songs). He would be the lead the rest of us would (sing the background harmonies)," Crable said. "You'd think coming out to a game, 'How are these guys getting ready to play football?' It was just a way to release stress and for me, at least, it was very effective
"The worst case scenario, you've got some knuckleheads and you have to tolerate some of the nonsense that goes on, but I'll tell you what; we had a group of guys that would go to war with each other every week. And I assure you that every one on that field from a defensive side and I'm pretty sure from an offensive side, as well, I don't know if we'd lay down our lives, but we would lay it on the line for each other.
"We had some great personalities, great guys, and it was absolutely one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had in my life."
Unfortunately, knee injuries shortened Crable's career. He injured his left ACL during mini-camp in 1984 and his right ACL four years later. He retired after spending the 1988 season on Injured Reserve.
"Both of them were non-contact drills. No one touched me. It was just one of those things," Crable said. "Once I had that first knee injury, at the time in history, guys didn't come back off of double ACL reconstructions."
He and his wife, Lisa, have made their home in suburban Cincinnati, and have four adult children: Amy George, Brian, Allison Deters, and Matt, who is a sophomore quarterback at the University of Saint Francis in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They also have three granddaughters.
The Crables have been involved in real estate – ownership and management – and recently sold their mobile home community business.
"We had four parks and we had a total of about 730 total pads that we were responsible for renting out. It was a pretty nice deal. So, what am I doing now? I'm trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up," Crable said with a laugh. "Actually, I'm just taking a breath right now. My wife keeps telling me I have to do something. I'm driving her crazy.
"I've got some friends who are in the mortgage business, and I know how competitive that is, but I may get involved in the mortgage business. And I looked at trying to get involved in doing some real estate brokerage, which is the selling and helping people find things that they want, but it just wasn't a fit for me. So, with the sale of the properties that we had, I'll take a deep breath here and see what happens."