Ker as CEO of Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill
|Date of birth:May 5, 1962|
|Place of birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|High school: Dunedin (FL)|
|NFL Draft: 1985 / Round: 3 / Pick: 76|
|Debuted in 1985 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Last played in 1991 for the Denver Broncos|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1991
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Crawford Francis Ker (born May 5, 1962) is an American former college and professional football player who was a guard in the National Football League (NFL) for six seasons during the 1980s and early 1990s. Ker played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos of the NFL. He is now the owner of a chain of restaurants and sports bars located throughout Florida.
Ker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was the only son of George and Anne Ker. His father George immigrated to the United States from Scotland, and had previously served in the British Army as a Buckingham Palace guard. When Ker was young, his family moved to Florida, and his father worked two or three jobs to pay for the family's ranch house in Dunedin, Florida, running a lawn service during the day and working at a 7-11 convenience store at night. After school, and during weekends and summers, Ker worked with his father, cutting grass. In the mid-1970s, George managed the kitchen at Capogna's Dugout, a sports restaurant in Clearwater, Florida, where Ker worked as a busboy while he was in high school. During school semester breaks and vacations, he also waited tables and cooked in the kitchen.
|“||It's hard to believe. He was a skinny kid. I mean, he got a ribbon for the high jump. Other guys were worried about girls, he was in the gym working out. I think Crawford went into football in order to make things easier for his dad. It was a means to an end.||”|
—Anne Ker, on why her son Crawford Ker decided
Ker attended Dunedin High School in Dunedin. During his junior year in high school, he decided to become a professional football player. He had not played high school football before his junior year, but he started working out; after beginning high school at 145 pounds, he bulked up to 210. During his senior he was named All-Conference and the Dunedin Falcons football team won a Pinellas County championship, but no Division I football programs recruited him to play college football. Crawford graduated from Dunedin High School in 1980, but didn't want to attend a small college; he wanted to play at a big school to improve his chances of being drafted in the NFL. He worked out during the first year after graduation, adding another fifty pounds to his six-foot, four-inch frame.
On the advice of a friend, Ker called the football coach at Arizona Western College who invited him to Yuma, Arizona. His father purchased a one-way airline ticket to Arizona for Ker. Ker played at Arizona Western for two years and was recognized as a junior college ("JUCO") All-American in 1982.
The Florida Gators football coaches were convinced of Ker's talent and offered him an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida for his junior and senior years in 1983 and 1984. Ker's nickname among his Gators teammates was "Big Daddy," and he could bench-press up to 515 pounds making him one of the strongest players in college football. He played two years for coach Charley Pell and coach Galen Hall's Florida Gators football teams, and, as a senior, he was on the Gator's 1984 squad that, at the time, was considered the finest Gators football team ever. The Gators' outstanding offensive line was called "The Great Wall of Florida," and included Ker, Phil Bromley, Lomas Brown, Billy Hinson and Jeff Zimmerman. Behind the blocking of Ker and his Great Wall teammates, the Gators' quarterback Kerwin Bell, fullback John L. Williams and halfback Neal Anderson led the Gators to a 9–1–1 overall win-loss record and won their first Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship with a conference record of 5–0–1. Ker was recognized as a second-team All-SEC selection and an honorable mention All-American following the 1984 season.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Ker in the third round (seventy-sixth pick overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft. Because of a back injury, he only played five games as a 23-year-old rookie in 1985. Ker was the starting right guard from 1986 to 1989 and the starting left guard in 1990. He became the Cowboys' highest-paid offensive lineman, and started in eighty-six of the Cowboys' ninety-one regular season games from 1986 to 1990.
After Cowboys head coach Tom Landry retired, Ker signed in plan B free agency with the Denver Broncos on March 27, 1991. He was placed on the injured reserve list during the 1991 preseason, and eventually started 10 games after being reactivated. He was waived on July 9, 1992.
Life after football
Ker is the founder and chief executive officer of Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill, a Florida-based chain of restaurants and sports bars. Crawford and his wife Melissa were married in 1998, and they live in Largo, Florida. The Kers have two daughters and a son.
- Florida Gators
- Florida Gators football, 1980–89
- List of Dallas Cowboys players
- List of Florida Gators football players in the NFL
- Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Crawford Ker. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- Kelley Benham, "A wing and a player," St. Petersburg Times (July 15, 2005). Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- databaseFootball.com, Players, Crawford Ker. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 87, 96, 98, 183 (2011). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Norm Carlson, "Norm Carlson Looks Back . . . The Great Wall," GatorZone.com (September 11, 2003). Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- The title was later vacated by the SEC university presidents because of NCAA rules violations committed by Charley Pell and the Gators coaching staff between 1979 and 1983, before Ker's arrival in Gainesville.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1985 National Football League Draft. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- "Transactions," Baltimore Sun (July 9, 1992). Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- Don Pierson, "Lions' Roar Is Still Audible Above All The Tragedies," Chicago Tribune (August 21, 1992). Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Transactions," The New York Times (August 28, 1991). Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
- Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
- Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
- McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
- Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.
- Ker's WingHouse – Official website of Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill.