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Former county official returns to football despite Crohn's disease

Shane Crawford (52) will start at defensive end this Saturday. Rick Benavides.

June 18, 2013 | 03:29 PM
WILLIAMS BAY — Two summers ago, he was working a 9-to-5 for Walworth County.

Donning a suit and tie by day, Shane Crawford was the public works director.

By night, Crawford, 35, would turn into an animal. He was a starting outside linebacker for the Lake Geneva Generals. It was his first time playing football, and he loved it. Crawford lived in the weight room in preparation for the season and was a natural.

In January 2012, he moved down to Florida, taking a job as a city manager in Madeira Beach.

Crawford is moving up the ladder in the Sunshine State, but he never lost that itch for football.

This weekend, when the Generals host the Wauwatosa Spartans in their second preseason game at Williams Bay High School, Crawford will return to the field. He will be starting at defensive end.

Crawford has had to deal with hernia surgery and Crohn's disease, which have affected his diet and workout regimen. But he loves the Generals, and he can't wait to get back in the trenches.

Crawford plans to visit family and former Walworth County co-workers during his trip to Wisconsin.

"I have invited all of the Walworth County employees as our guests this Saturday to cheer on Shane," Generals co-owner Jeni Diehl said. "I don't know who is more excited, Walworth County or Shane. He is so excited to get back into the camouflage and have some fun."

The Regional News recently caught up with Crawford to discuss his love of football, his disease and his respect for the Generals.

Regional News: Why are you coming back to play?

Shane Crawford: I miss playing football real bad. That was a great group of guys, and the Diehls do so much as team owners and they do so much for the guys on the team. It's a great organization to be connected with. I'm going to be 36 years old in August. I can still play. I stayed in shape despite being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the fall of 2012.

RN: What else are you doing in Wisconsin?

SC: I'm coming up to visit some family and friends in Manitowoc. My cousin has two little boys I don't see a lot of. My grandma wants to know how her oldest grandson is doing. I will see my brother, who has two little girls, and I don't see my nieces nearly enough. And I will see my dad, who drove three hours each way and never missed a game in my only season with the Generals.

RN: How has Crohn's disease affected your health?

SC: Crohn's is a immune deficiency disease that attacks a part of your intestine. I'm avoiding surgery by using heavy doses of prescription steroids and taking injections in my stomach every other week.

I have to be extremely careful of what I eat. Ironically for a gym rat, Crohn's is tough because anything raw is on the do-not-eat list, which includes salads, fruits, and vegetables. Carbs are easy to digest, so my diet has dramatically changed.

I also had hernia surgery and that had a two-month recovery, but I'm back in the weight room and running again. Thank God muscle has memory.

RN: Are you looking forward to playing with some new faces?

SC: The generals lost some players. I know they went through a time where they thought they might have to shut the team down. I think it's the name of the game. Good players gravitate to other leagues or teams. It's not disrespectful. It might be a closer commute or the town they live in.

I'll always remember that first-year team. It was a team of all stars. Not sure I belonged out on that first team defense but it sure was fun. When your teammates are that good, a 34-year-old who never played tackle football in his life can start and be effective. With Derek Diehl at the helm, the Generals will always have a quality team that will be competitive.


Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports

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