Being part of Nine’s stable has allowed Crawford, 39, to shift from AFL player to broader non-sport appearances, including some north of the Murray River.
But he owes it all to the Footy Show‘s Live television education.
“On the Footy Show you get instant feedback from the audience and there’s nowhere to hide. When you stuff up, you stuff up. So that’s probably what excites me the most,” he says.
“But you just have to roll with it, who knows where it’s going to go?”
Since retiring from AFL in 2008, ‘Crawf’s’ main employer is Nine where he is also part of Victorian-travel series Postcards.
His latest venture will see him step into children’s television, on Kid’s WB as a guest host after the departure of Andrew Faulkner. Learning on the job at Nine’s Bendigo Street studios was an opportunity that is paying off in unexpected ways.
“I was a little boy from a country town who had no idea about TV but loved watching Hey Hey it’s Saturday and all the Live entertainment shows. So I was like a kid in a candy store,” he recalls.
“When I could I would watch the other shows at Channel Nine being filmed like The Price is Right, Sale of the Century, just to see how it all worked. It fascinated me, taking my mind away from footy and exciting me about the future.
“The Footy Show was something a bit different and it allowed me to be reasonably normal and a bit silly, which is something that suits me.
“Channel Nine is my main gig and on most of those shows they allow you to be ‘you.’ You can come across the way you really want to come across, fairly naturally.”
While the AFL show comes in for its fair share of criticism, Crawford has managed to avoid much of the controversy, and plenty of praise for his charity efforts.
“Sam copped the blame for when his pants were pulled down and his privates were shown on TV. That was me who did it but Sam copped the blame, which he still doesn’t let me forget,” he says.
“The charity things we’re extremely proud of, and we wouldn’t have been able to raise the amount of money we’ve raised without the show getting behind it.
“It’s been very much another side to The Footy Show and it probably doesn’t get a lot of credit for.”
Crawford raised more than $1.32m for Breast Cancer Network Australia with his marathon cycle to Perth, which followed a walk from Adelaide to Melbourne raising $500,000. So what’s next?
“The last couple have knocked me around a bit, so I’ve tried to back off for a little while,” he admits.
“But we’d be silly not try and continue something because the awareness and money we can generate…. It would be selfish of us if we couldn’t think of ways to link in with charities and communities, moving forward.”
In addition to appearances on Getaway, Crawford was also seen nationwide on the first season of Celebrity Apprentice, managing to stay to the final four. It was a clever move on Nine’s part to give him broader viewer appeal beyond his AFL audience. But Reality TV was one of his hardest gigs, alongside the likes of Deni Hines, Pauline Hanson and Max Markson.
“The first few days I just sat back and watched everything explode. We had all these personalities, and I thought “Gee I’ve got front row to this great TV show, because there was bickering and fighting,” he laughs.
“They were all really nice people in different ways but it was an eye opener. I thought Sam Newman was a lot to deal with!
“Hopefully it showed that there is a little bit more to me than being silly all the time.”
The Footy Show AFL airs 8:40pm tonight on Nine.