Christy reflects on Super Bowl season, NFL career
RICHLAND: “Krusty” has had plenty of laughs the past 11 NFL seasons. But will he have the last laughâ¢
That is a popular question surrounding Freeport native Jeff Christy, who played host at the 5th annual Jeff Christy All-Pro Open charity golf tournament Friday at Pittsburgh North Golf Club.
Christy, nicknamed “Krusty” by a Minnesota Vikings equipment manager who thought he laughed like the ornery clown from “The Simpsons,” is pondering retirement after a durable 11-year career which was punctuated last season by a Super Bowl title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It has always been a goal and dream of mine to play pro football,” Christy said. “And I am thankful I was able to do that.”
Sounds as if he is leaning toward Porchville. He recently moved back to the area and is building a house near Freeport.
But Christy, 34, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February, also is privy to entertaining free-agent offers and said six teams have contacted him this off-season.
“Maybe someone will call me three weeks before the Super Bowl and say they need a center,” Christy said. “If the right situation comes along, who knows.”
So, will he stay or will he go?
Christy’s career decision is as uncertain as his golf ball in terms of which direction it will go in the next few months — “I’m playing like crap today, and that’s nothing new for me,” Christy said after nine holes.
Christy, a former fourth-round draft pick of the Phoenix Cardinals, took a few moments to reflect on his career after making the first turn in the 27-hole scramble, which benefits the Freeport Baseball Association.
“To be honest, I have no regrets, I am happy with my accomplishments,” Christy said. “You’d always like to do more in your career, but I am very satisfied with things if I were to walk away from the game right now.”
Christy’s charity event, which has raised more than $110,000 (gross) for the Freeport Baseball Association, brought several former teammates and friends to the area.
Among them was Bucs fullback Mike Alstott, playing in Christy’s tournament for the first time. Alstott was sorry to see Christy go after the pair bolstered the Bucs offense during a 12-4 regular season and ensuing Super Bowl run.
“Jeff has always been a team leader,” Alstott said. “Being a 10-year veteran, he came in and helped the younger guys along right away. We have really become good friends the past four years. I was glad to come to his tournament.”
Former Vikings running back Robert Smith, Bucs offensive guard Kerry Jenkins, Vikings guard Dave Dixon and tackle Everett Lindsay, former Steelers linebacker Eric Ravotti and former Ford City and Robert Morris quarterback Tim Levcik also were in the laid-back field, which included 60 foursomes.
A celebrity auction was held Friday after golf. High-rollers bid on autographed memorabilia such as football helmets, baseballs and game jerseys. Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Roger Clemens and Mario Lemieux were among the signature-lenders.
“This has been a great time for a good cause,” said Levcik, who has a month off from mini-workouts with the Steelers. He is trying to make the team as a back-up quarterback. “When I was growing up, I always followed Jeff and Gus (Frerotte), I looked up to them. I hope to be able to follow in their footsteps and make it in the NFL.”
Christy, whose goal was to play 10 NFL seasons when he left Pitt, said the Bucs built on a foundation set by former coach Tony Dungy on the way to becoming champions for the first time.
“We didn’t really know what we would be like (in training camp),” Christy said. “Coach (Jon) Gruden kept us on edge and he didn’t let us get complacent. Coach Dungy gave us a great foundation and Coach Gruden kept it going. It was a great run.
“I feel like I have accomplished all of my goals and winning the Super Bowl was the ultimate one.”
Most NFL players would give their careers to be in Christy’s position — respected, blue-collar veteran, Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion.
“Some players would love to be in his shoes,” said Eric Ravotti, former Freeport, Penn State and Steelers linebacker. “Jeff is a warrior with exceptional skill and durability. And, he has what we all want — a Super Bowl ring.”
Christy and Alstott each left their new rings at home, because, “You never know what might happen,” Alstott said.
Just like Christy’s final decision.
Weight: 285 pounds.
Born: Feb. 3, 1969 in Freeport.
NFL experience: 11 years.
Year Team Games played Games started
1993 Vikings 9 0
1994 Vikings 16 16
1995 Vikings 16 16
1996 Vikings 16 16
1997 Vikings 12 12
1998 Vikings 16 16
1999 Vikings 16 16
2000 Buccaneers 16 16
2001 Buccaneers 15 15
2002 Buccaneers 16 16
Total 11 seasons 148 139
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review local sports editor. You can contact Bill at 724-224-2696, email@example.com or via Twitter .