Chris Crocker, named the Bengals Good Guy by the local media for his work this past season, wouldn't mind having a vote of his own one day.
Fighting a deadline, Crocker is scrambling to put together his application for the NFL Players Association's broadcasting boot camp in June. It's a process that has made him realize all he's ever done is play football even though his degree is in sports management and marketing from Marshall.
"I don't have a résumé; I never had a real job," he said this week. "I've focused on making football my craft the past nine years."
And he believes he's got a few years left in this job. He may be heading into his 10th season but Crocker says it's the best his body has felt in more than a year. Just after the season he had arthroscopic surgery to clean out a knee that has bothered him since he originally hurt it in the Nov. 21, 2010 game against the Bills and missed the rest of the year.
Crocker came back to start all 16 games this past season, but it began to bother him again at some point in the middle of the year and he did what good guys do. Like middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, he played through it and didn't use it as an excuse after the defense struggled in the last two games of the season.
With Maualuga also having an offseason procedure on his ankle and cornerback Leon Hall rehabbing his torn Achilles, Crocker is confident his unit is going to return to its form of last September and October during the 6-2 run to open the season.
"We're going to be better," Crocker said. "I think we learned some lessons. We started off hot and there were some games we lost earlier in the year that we should have won that affected us later in the year. We put ourselves in a funk and we were fighting from behind all the time. We've got a bunch of guys back and we'll add some guys as we always do. I'll be healthy. With this knee scope, it's the best I've ever felt than at any point during the season."
Crocker became a Good Guy by not being afraid to answer the media's questions win or lose. After getting stiffarmed by Texans running back Arian Foster in the Wild Card game on that ugly 42-yard touchdown run to end it, Crocker manned up in the postgame locker room and took all the questions.
But that's his challenge. He's only done it one way.
"I've never asked questions, I've always answered them," he said. "I don't know what questions to ask. I've never interviewed anyone. I'm sure if I had to, I could. That's the great thing about the boot camp. It teaches you about things you don't know about by putting you on the set and putting everything on tape."
Crocker has heard nothing but good things about the program from an ex-teammate like Dhani Jones and other players throughout the league. His interest has been piqued from looking at the former players populating the mikes.
"Trent Dilfer is one of the best," he said. "Keyshawn (Johnson). Cris Carter is great. (Tim) Hasselbeck. Shaun King. Those guys were sitting in my shoes once. They looked at someone and said, 'Maybe I can do that if a door is open.' "
Being on the radio with former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins has also opened Crocker's eyes. Hawkins is now national with another Cincinnati talkmaster, Andy Furman, on FOX's morning show. And, like Hawkins, Crocker has been a lot of places during 10 seasons in the NFL.
"It doesn't have to be TV, it can be radio. Artrell has done a great job," Crocker said. "I've become a self-made expert. I've met a lot of people in the league. I've made just as many contacts as anybody. If you're a former player it's easier to take that route. I may be able to get an interview somebody else can't because I played with that guy or I know that coach or played under that GM. I think that's why you see so many former players going into it. The transition isn't painful."
Since he wants to keep playing, Crocker has ideas, not plans. High school athletic director. Public relations. He'd love to get into the front office of the NFL or a team.
"I don't necessarily want to coach; that's a whole different type of grind," Crocker said. "That's tough. It's hard. I don't know if I have that in me."
He's got football in him. Plenty left, he says. But it's never too early to start thinking about the future.
"I'm past halfway. I have to think about the transition," Crocker said. "When you're not playing, the doors aren't as easy to get into."