“There’s no way this man is getting into the Hall, and I won’t be there to see him,” Crews said, choking on the other end of the phone, because that’s how Crews rolls and that Dayton has impacted him. . “Every meal my family eats is because of him.”
And Crews remembers exactly when it all started.
On November 2, 1997, Hamilton got up at 6 a.m. in Orangeburg and dragged Crews to Charlotte. Dayton had actually brought in one of Hamilton’s students to watch a game. And it left a mark. It’s fair to say that Crews raves about the details, from sitting on a stool in the press box directly behind legendary Raiders owner Al Davis, to the secondary brawl that broke out between the teams that day- the.
And then he met the man who would change his life.
“This little gray-haired guy walks up and he introduces himself to me,” Crews said. “Here’s this 20-year-old, with terrible grades, and this mountain in his profession, and he walks up and says, ‘It’s nice to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you.'”
That introduction led to internships with the Panthers in 1998 and 1999, giving Crews a chance to learn, push himself and be pushed. Crews is one of those natural PR guys, with an easy charm and a knack for building rapport and putting people at ease. But he was still a late-round pick at a small school who could use a year on the practice squad. He was good at the big picture, but he lacked polish and the details sometimes eluded him. And it almost ended up causing him to quit a job he loved, because he was afraid he wouldn’t make his weight.
But in that moment, Dayton offered more than just encouragement, he offered tangible help. Because he saw something in Crews that deserved more than just a pool key and a chance to sink or swim.
The crews were good. But his written copy still had too many grammatical problems. So at Crews’ annual exam, they talked about his progress, and Dayton arranged for an English tutor to help Crews after hours with the mechanics of writing, to reinforce his flippancy for so to speak, so that all his other natural skills can shine.
“I went in that day thinking I was going to quit, thinking I couldn’t do it, because I was terrible and holding everyone back,” Crews recalled. “He saved my professional life that day, because he said, ‘You can do things naturally that I can’t teach, but you have to believe it because I believe it.’ So he sends me to a tutor, who does that, he could have chosen a million people to replace me.
“But he invested in me and he changed the course of my life. That’s who he is, he loves you and he’s all into it if you’re into it. He just has this beautiful cultivation spirit.”