A Former Miner Uses the NFL Lockout To Work Towards a Degree


POSTED: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 4:57pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 3:34pm

Damon Cromartie-Smith left UTEP with 234 tackles, 4 interceptions, and plenty of big hits and memories to last a lifetime.  What he did not earn was a degree from UTEP, so Cromartie-Smith has used this last few months of the NFL Lockout to work towards a Communication Degree.  The Pittsburgh Steeler, who signed to the practice squad as a free agent in 2010, maintained his practice squad role the entire 2010 season, and even got to venture to the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium, a Steeler loss to Green Bay.

Cromartie-Smith has been waiting eagerly to earn a bigger role in 2011, if that comes.  The NFL owners and the NLFPA (NFL Players Association) are on day 98 of a lockout, in which the owners and the players have not agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement.  Signs of progress have taken place the last few days, and the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, has even hinted that the lockout might end soon.

"I think it's a tremendous positive that the principles are talking, anytime you are dealing with the NFL and 32 clubs, and 1,800 players there will be different perspectives, it's not about what everyone wants, it's about what everyone needs.  It was a good day in terms of having a full discussion on issues, our ownership continues to be determined to reach agreement and make sure we play a full season."

That's good news for players like Cromartie-Smith, who don't have health insurance, and have not been able to practice with their team under coaches supervision.  Cromartie-Smith plans to get his degree in Communication, and hopes to graduate from UTEP in December.

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