GEORGETOWN, Ky.- This isn't baseball and a cool mid-summer's night and fathers playing catch with sons.
This is football and a steamy training camp and a father throwing his son life's lessons.
Tim Krumrie, the Bengals defensive line coach, thought it was time his son should get a whiff of the profession he loves. Eleven years old. Going into sixth grade. Just about right.
For Dexter Krumrie, that didn't mean one trip downtown to a skyscraper. It meant three weeks here at Georgetown College while the Bengals train. Three weeks sleeping in a dorm. Three weeks of getting transferred to the care of equipment manager Rob Recker. Three weeks of doing laundry, lacing shoes, folding towels and getting taped into a box by tight end Marco Battaglia. Three weeks of having the time of his life.
"Lucky for Dexter," Battaglia said, "We didn't send him out in the mail. He's a good kid. We love him. But he's Krummy's kid. So we have to give him a hard time."
If you're Krumrie's kid, you knew this wouldn't be Camp Take-A-Nap. Tim Krumrie could have left football after he retired six years ago and remained in the pantheon of popular Bengals. The tenth-round draft pick who wordlessly hustled sideline-to-sideline and into two Pro Bowls became the workingman's hero of those glitzy Cincinnati teams of the late '80s.
While they scored all those points, the allegedly too slow and too small Krumrie held it together on the other side at nose tackle with attitude. If Kenny Anderson carved his name into Bengal lore with precision and Anthony Munoz with power and Isaac Curtis with speed, then Krumrie did it with heart.
There was no other outlet after '94. It had to be coaching. Krumrie subscribes to the Paul Brown code of football: "It's a tough game played by tough people." Which means hanging around Tim Krumrie is tough. He's up at 5 a.m., usually works out three times a day, loves to throw himself between two guys in pads whaling away on each other in a practice fight, and tells you what he thinks even if it isn't very nice.
He told Dexter he could work at camp. But he was going to work and not goof off on the sidelines throwing a ball. Dexter, who has to take care of the family horses when his parents are on a trip, didn't think that was so unusual.
A chip off the old block?
"Dogs don't have cats," Tim Krumrie grumbled.
"It's picking up dirty clothes, it's picking up dirty towels. That's how you start. You start at the bottom and work your way up. It's work ethic. Whenever you can do a good job, it pays off. When I had my beer distributorship, I delivered the stuff myself. Went on the routes myself to learn what it's about. The guys treat Dexter well. It's a great learning experience for him."
Like most fathers, Krumrie wanted Dexter to see what he sees every day. To feel what he feels, to enjoy what he enjoys. After Krumrie works out the overweight players, he stops back to the dorm and wakes up Dexter at 8 a.m. Usually the kid stops working at 9:30 p.m. and after Tim gets back from staff meetings, they will probably pop in a tape of "Braveheart," and watch it for the 20th time.
But one night Dexter came home, took off his clothes and got into bed. Tim asked, "What are you doing?" and Dexter said, "I'm tired. You know tomorrow is a two-a-day, Dad?" The old man loved that one.
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"My favorite part is watching the guys practice," Dexter said one day in the heat of the laundry room. "But usually I'm in here washing clothes. I'll take out equipment to practice, but most of the time I'm around here helping the other guys."
Recker runs a tight ship and he can use all the help he can get. He'll miss Dexter next week because Thursday was his last day. Dexter was great for him because Recker could say, "Go see if No. 31 needs his bag packed," or, "Put this in No. 60's locker," or, "Lace up these shoes and write No.72 on the back of them," and it got done. Recker trusted Dexter enough to give him the keys to the golf cart and let him drive it up to the conference center to get packages.
"He always brings the keys back and hangs them up," Tim Krumrie said. "If he doesn't, he knows I'll go find him."
His Dad doesn't see all that much of him. Tim wakes him up, then stops by the equipment room before the afternoon practice to check in, and then maybe they'll eat dinner together in the cafeteria. But that's not often. Dexter usually eats with the equipment guys. On one night the players were off, the crew went for a Skyline Chili Eat Off and then went to see "Scary Movie." "I lost," Dexter said. "I had a Four-Way and two coneys. The movie was funny." Sometimes he'll eat a meal with his buddy, guard Matt O'Dwyer. O'Dwyer took a Magic Marker and wrote on the shoulder of Dexter's shirt, "O'Dwyer Rules." Dexter responded by writing "O'Dwyer Rules?" on the blackboard in the laundry room. Tackle Willie Anderson kids around with Dexter by not saying anything to him. He just looks at him.
"I stare him down," Dexter said.
On his last day, a couple of guys taped him to a pole. Not that bad.
Tim Krumrie is having the time of his life, too.
"I wanted him to get a sense of the atmosphere of the football world," he said. "The lifestyle Dad goes through at training camp. Experience it. But at the same time, working a job and being responsible."
One night as Recker and Dexter and the guys were finishing up in the equipment room, Tim asked Dexter for an exact quote from a line in "Braveheart."
"Every man dies, but not every man really lives," Dexter said.
Then it was time for bed and the quick walk over the dorm. If you were behind them as they walked past a dark football field lit up ever so slightly by a white goal post, you could see the two tough guys holding hands.
It's not fathers playing catch with sons. Just a father catching up his son.