On the same defensive line for going on five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence have a tight bond. But what makes it special is it stretches back before their NFL careers.
And the bond goes beyond the teammates starting together at defensive end in 2018 — the former Boise State standouts are a buddy pairing fit for a TV screen.
“I love it so much to have him right by my side, he’s my best friend,” Lawrence said. “... We ride bikes together every Tuesday.”
Secret handshakes? They’ve got those, too.
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“One goes back to our Boise days,” Crawford said.
The duo both were junior college transfers coming into Boise State, Lawrence a demon on the edge right after Crawford’s departure. They formed a friendship when Lawrence made his recruiting visit during the 2011 season.
Lawrence was the one who was a little more talkative, a little more bold, racking up 21 sacks in his two seasons. Crawford was more of the silent giant, the type who led by example, registering 27 tackles for loss in his two years in Boise.
Today, they’re well-compensated and well-respected. Lawrence, who tied for second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks last season, is on a one-year, $17.1 million deal, and Crawford, named a captain this season, is in the third year of a five-year, $45 million deal.
“It’s absolutely insane to have D-Law right out there with me, having seen our friendship grow together, being from the same school and wreaking havoc together,” Crawford said.
That chaos for opposing offenses was on display in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Both had a sack in the 20-13 win, Lawrence’s second of the season and Crawford’s first. On Lawrence’s sack, Crawford, who has played defensive tackle in Dallas, lined up in the middle and occupied the right guard and tackle as Lawrence slid behind them to get to Eli Manning.
That’s the sort of thing Crawford, who has 17.5 sacks since Lawrence’s arrival, hopes to bring to the table as a captain.
“It means I’m getting old,” the seventh-year veteran said with a laugh. “It really is an honor, it’s been an amazing few years. They’ve always let me battle.
“Getting those numbers doesn’t matter, as long as I’m doing my job.”
Suspended the first four games of 2016, Lawrence had just one sack that year. He broke out with a vengeance last season and has continued that production in 2018. He had three one-game suspensions at Boise State, but said his breakout year was a product of personal growth, too.
During the intros on NBC, when it came his turn, he said he was from “THE Boise State Broncos.”
“Growing, not just as a player, but as a man, some great coaches behind me,” Lawrence said. “It was a great experience to go to Boise and get drafted by my favorite team. ... Now I’m in the limelight, it’s just great.”
Through two games, the Cowboys have nine sacks, tied for the third-best start in Cowboys history. A third of those are courtesy of the Boise State boys on the line, part of a level of success Crawford and Lawrence could only imagine when meeting for the first time in Boise seven years ago.
“It’s pretty special,” Crawford said. “We’re blue-collar guys, same way we were in Boise. We were coached well, and we’re just loving it.”