Mary Crockett would have danced away the night Saturday.
Her son, Montay, was seated with family in Atlanta dutifully minding his phone when his agent, Jack Reale, called with some good news from the Green Bay Packers. Very good news.
“I took the first thing coming because you can’t sit around and say, ‘oh, I’m a wait on this team, I’m a wait on that team,’” Crockett said Sunday morning. “I thank God for the opportunity.”
Mary Crockett passed away in 2015, succumbing to stomach cancer in her late 50s. She would have burst with pride knowing Montay will attend the Packers’ rookie mini-camp next week as an NFL undrafted free agent. Tears of joy sprung from Montay’s eyes Saturday evening as that very thought dawned on him.
“I was really lost for words,” said the former South Pointe High standout. “Dreams really do come true. When you come from nothing and something like this comes about, it’s a blessing.”
To all the little kids back home, everybody’s got a dream. Don’t ever stop. Just remember why you started.
Crockett toiled in relative football obscurity for five years at Georgia Southern, a successful program that bases its offense almost completely around running the football. Crockett is a receiver and special teams ace and caught just 32 passes in 47 career games, with 24 of those grabs coming his senior year.
But he’s track star-fast and springy like Pooh Bear’s good friend, Tigger. His 4.28 40-yard dash at a combine in New Orleans certainly made its way on to a number of NFL scouts’ clipboards, as did the 38-inch vertical and frog-like broad jump he showed at Georgia Southern’s pro day. Crockett’s greatest potential may be as a punt or kickoff return man.
Green Bay saw those qualities. So did the Jets, Giants, Cardinals and Bears, all teams that contacted Crockett or his agent. A visit to the Carolina Panthers was enlightening as to what NFL teams were going to expect from free agent receivers trying to make their rosters. If running routes for the Panthers in downtown Charlotte made it feel real for Crockett, imagine what next week will be like in Green Bay.
“This is the opportunity I wanted,” he said. “I got my foot in the door, so now it’s time to take it up a notch.”
Crockett said Sunday morning that his mom was always the loudest fan at any game he played in.
Mary was uncharacteristically quiet about her own struggles. She didn’t want to disrupt her son’s academic and athletic success at Georgia Southern so she seriously downplayed the illness’ advance. When Crockett did return home he noticed her hair loss and eyes more yellow, her appetite lessened and dancing desires stifled.
From here on out, it’s the next step. I want to take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t want to look back, worry about the past, whatever happened. Now, I’m here. I have my foot in the door.
Crockett was taking summer classes in 2015 when he got the other most impacting phone call of his life. Mary, who raised all the kids in the neighborhood when Montay was a child, who always made everyone laugh, told her son he needed to come home and see her.
“What’s wrong,” he asked, not expecting the answer:
Crockett dropped the phone and raced the three and half hours back to Rock Hill, but his presence couldn’t change the outcome. It was Mary’s time.
“I didn’t want to go to school anymore or none of that,” he said. “Seeing her in that type of situation really broke me down. But at the same time, I didn’t want to quit because that’s not what she wanted. She used to always tell me, ‘my baby’s gonna go pro’ or ‘my baby’s gonna finish school.’
Now he’s done both.
“This is what she wanted,” Crockett said. “If my mother was here she would be dancing, she would just be happy. Tears of joy. So this moment right here is real special for me.”