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Crosby one of several Tigers back for reunion

Published on -10/5/2012, 10:25 AM

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By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The New York Giants of the mid-1970s were ahead of the curve when it came to specialization.

In this era of 3-point shooters in basketball, left-handed relievers in the game for only one out in baseball and nickel backs in football, the Giants perhaps topped them all when Steve Crosby first donned a uniform in 1974.

When asked if it was true he was the left-footed coffin corner kicker for the Giants, Crosby at first just laughed. Crosby then acknowledged he indeed was the punter to boot it out of bounds near the goal line on the left side of the field. If Giants coach Bill Arnsparger wanted to coffin corner kick it on the right side of the field, he used regular punter Dave Jennings.

"Bill said we just got a great deal here, because we got a guy who can coffin corner kick right, and a guy who can kick left," Crosby said. "It was a pretty interesting deal."

Crosby also was the team's quick-kick specialist.

"(When) we punted on third down, on the toss sweep I punted on the run," he said.

Crosby, who spent three years as a player and 33 as a coach in the NFL before retiring last year, also was one of the top running backs in Fort Hays State University history. Crosby, who now lives in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, was back in town Thursday for a golf tournament as part of the school's homecoming activities this weekend. Crosby also planned to attend today's reunion of former Tiger football players from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Thirsty's Brew Pub & Grill, 2704 Vine.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament in Crosby's knee ended his NFL career.

"Back then, they couldn't fix ACLs," he said.

Crosby's coaching career started in 1977 as Don Shula's first special teams coach for the Miami Dolphins. Crosby later had coaching stops in Atlanta (twice), Cleveland, New England, four years as an assistant in college at Vanderbilt University and then ended his career coaching special teams for 10 seasons in San Diego. In 2007, he was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year while with the Chargers.

Pretty heady stuff for a small-town boy from Pawnee Rock, which is located near Great Bend. Crosby first went to school at Kansas State University before he transferred to FHSU in 1970. His first season with the Tigers, Crosby started at fullback in the wishbone under head coach Tom Stromgren. The team's other fullback was Charlie Krull.

"We split time," Krull said with a chuckle. "I practiced; he played.

"We were one of the first teams to run the wishbone up here in Kansas."

After his first season with the Tigers, Crosby served a year in the military before returning to the team. The Tigers had changed coaches, and new coach Bill Giles used the old Nebraska I-formation, with Crosby the starting tailback.

Crosby flourished in the new offense, finishing his Tiger career rushing for 2,780 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was an Associated Press Little All-American in 1973, and was a two-time NAIA All-District 10 selection and a two-time All-Great Plains Athletic Conference pick.

"I just enjoyed playing football, I enjoyed the coaches we had," Crosby said of his college days. "I just liked the competition, playing."

It's been a while since Crosby, 62, has been back in Hays. Until he retired, his weekends in the fall have been spent on NFL sidelines. He's enjoying his return to where he had his glory days.

"It was all fond memories," Crosby said.

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