Alge Crumpler was one of the best tight ends in Atlanta Falcons franchise history.
Crumpler used his massive 6’2″, 275-lb. frame to his full advantage—not only did he become one of Michael Vick’s most reliable weapons, but his exemplary blocking skills also helped the Falcons’ passing and running games during his seven-year tenure in Atlanta.
Crumpler’s work ethic on the gridiron paid enormous dividends—he earned three First-Team All-ACC honors with the North Carolina Tar Heels and four Pro Bowl nods with the Atlanta Falcons.
Alge Crumpler set the bar high at the tight end position during his 10-year pro football career.
Algernon Darius “Alge” Crumpler was born to parents Carlester Sr. and Gertha in Greenville, NC on December 23, 1977. He has an older brother, Carlester Jr., and a younger brother, Bryan.
Crumpler got his name from his dad’s favorite book, “Flowers for Algernon,” written by Daniel Keyes.
Crumpler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s I.J. Rosenberg in the fall of 2015 that he not only finished the book, but also enjoyed it.
Football runs deep in Crumpler’s blood—his father Calester Sr. played running back for the Buffalo Bills from 1974 to 1977.
On the other hand, Alge’s older brother Carlester Jr. played tight end for the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings for a combined six seasons from 1994 to 1999.
Both Alge’s father and older brother are tall and slender—the former was 6’4″ while his younger namesake was two inches taller at 6’6″.
Alge reached a maximum height of 6’2″ in adulthood. He also had a wider frame than his family—his playing weight in the NFL peaked at 275 lbs.
According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, Alge Crumpler attended the East Carolina Pirates’ football camp before he reached ninth grade. Both Carlester Sr. and Carlester Jr. were part of that football program during their college days.
East Carolina tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who would coach Alge with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons nearly 12 years later, recorded his time in the 40-yard dash at 5.97 seconds.
When Alge’s dad asked Jagodzinski if he ran the 40 in less than six seconds, the latter told him it was close. Alge wasn’t the least bit amused when both men snickered—he was sensitive to issues about his weight.
Alge Crumpler attended New Hanover High School in Wilmington, NC.
His classmates made fun of his chubby build during his early years in high school.
“In biology, they used to say, ‘Hey, Alge, are you a fungi?” Crumpler told Wickersham in 2004.
Alge sold peanuts at East Carolina football games when he was in high school. Whenever his older brother Carlester Jr. took the field for the Pirates, he sat on the steps to watch and paid no attention to customers.
Watching these games was a defining moment for Alge Crumpler—he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps on the gridiron and become a football player, per Wickersham.
— Forgotten NFL Studs (@FormerNFLStuds) August 28, 2014
Crumpler knew he had his work cut out for him so he went the extra mile—he paid better attention to his diet, lifted weights like a madman, and joined the New Hanover Wildcats’ track and field squad so he could run faster.
Crumpler’s hard work off the gridiron paid off just before his senior year—he was already part of New Hanover’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 200-meter relay squads.
Not only that, but he also earned state titles in the discus throw and shot put in 1996.
Crumpler never forgot the time when New Hanover Wildcats head football coach Joe Miller summoned him into his office and told him not to mess things up.
Miller lined up his best players in front of Crumpler, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Alge Crumpler’s exemplary play earned him All-Conference honors as a tight end and linebacker for the Wildcats following his senior year. His incredible metamorphosis from chubby high school kid to gridiron warrior was nearly complete.
In fact, he had improved his 40-yard dash time to 4.6 seconds, per Wickersham.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Crumpler decided to attend the University of North Carolina after taking part in one of the Tar Heels’ football camps where he met coach Mack Brown.
A rejuvenated Alge Crumpler eventually evolved into one of the best tight ends in North Carolina Tar Heels football history in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
College Days With The North Carolina Tar Heels
Alge Crumpler attended the University of North Carolina from 1996 to 2000. He majored in journalism and mass communications.
Crumpler chose UNC because he felt the school’s supportive environment would help him achieve his goals on and off the gridiron.
“If I am going to do it, I am going to make sure I am doing it right,” Crumpler told Zoya Johnson of the Tar Heels’ official athletics website in the summer of 2014. “I just felt like being at North Carolina surrounded me with those types of people.”
Crumpler’s younger brother Bryan, a future musician, joined him on campus a year later. Since Bryan Crumpler was part of UNC’s marching band, he high-fived his brother Alge as he ran out of the tunnel and onto the football field every Saturday afternoon.
Crumpler had a secret weapon on the college gridiron—his derrière.
“If it weren’t for that a–, Crump wouldn’t catch a lot of passes,” Crumpler’s North Carolina teammate and best friend Dauntae Finger told ESPN in 2004. “No one can get around him.”
Crumpler shook his head and agreed big buttocks were common among his family members.
When Crumpler played for the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League, his best friend and backup tight end Derek Rackley asked his mother Gertha where Alge got his big buttocks.
Gertha Crumpler told Rackley her son got it from his dad, Carlester Sr.
Alge Crumpler played mainly on special teams in his true freshman year in 1996. He earned “most outstanding special teams player” honors that year, per Johnson.
Crumpler helped the Tar Heels win 10 of 12 games in the 1996 NCAA season. Under Mack Brown’s leadership, North Carolina won two consecutive Gator Bowls in the mid-1990s.
The 12th-ranked Tar Heels beat the 25th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in the 1996 Gator Bowl, 20-13.
North Carolina upped the ante a year later with an impressive 11-1 win-loss record. Crumpler emerged as a tight end threat with 278 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 24 receptions in his sophomore season.
The Tar Heels won the Gator Bowl for the second straight year with a 42-3 drubbing of the Virginia Tech Hokies in 1997.
☑️ Second-Round NFL Draft Pick
☑️ Played 10 years in the NFL
☑️ Four-Time Pro Bowl Selection
☑️ Finalist for the Mackey Award
☑️ Three-Time All-ACC
☑️ Team Captain @Alge_Crumpler is a Tar Heel!#CarolinaFootball 🏈 #ProHeels pic.twitter.com/U3oPuWKPmt
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) April 22, 2020
Crumpler tore his ACL during a scrimmage game the following spring. He had to sit out the entire 1998 NCAA season.
Crumpler’s season-ending injury coincided with Carl Torbush’s first full year as Tar Heels head football coach in 1998. North Carolina won seven games and beat the San Diego State Aztecs in the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl, 20-13.
Before Alge Crumpler took the field for the 1999 NCAA season, he also competed in the shot put event—he finished third in the UNC Invitational and eighth at the indoor ACC Championships.
Crumpler started all 11 games for the Tar Heels in 1999 and finished the season with 191 receiving yards on 20 receptions. He eventually earned First-Team All-ACC honors at season’s end.
Despite Crumpler’s successful return, North Carolina won just three games in 1999.
The Tar Heels had a 6-5 win-loss mark in Crumpler’s senior season in 2000. He had 287 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions. North Carolina didn’t play in a postseason bowl game for the second straight year.
Although the Tar Heels’ season ended on a sour note, Alge Crumpler received valuable consolation when he became one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award—an accolade given to the best tight end in college football.
Crumpler finished his tenure at North Carolina with 760 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 68 receptions. He earned three First-Team All-ACC titles when he played for the Tar Heels from 1996 to 2000.
Alge Crumpler’s evolution continued in the National Football League where he became a four-time Pro Bowl tight end with the Atlanta Falcons.
Pro Football Career
The Atlanta Falcons made Alge Crumpler the 35th overall selection of the 2001 NFL Draft.
Although the Falcons already drafted Reggie Kelly at tight end two years earlier, they didn’t want to pass up on Crumpler.
“Alge was a prototype tight end,” Atlanta head coach Dan Reeves told ESPN three years later. “You never want to pass up a player like that.”
The Falcons’ hunch about Crumpler was spot on—he became one of the main cogs in their offense from 2001 to 2007.
Crumpler and fellow rookie Michael Vick became a formidable duo for the Falcons for the next seven seasons. They roomed together on the road and developed tremendous chemistry during their time together in Atlanta.
Crumpler’s passion and enthusiasm got on the nerves of some veterans during his rookie year in 2001. When coaches asked for a volunteer, Crumpler was always one of the first to raise his hand.
“We were like, ‘Who does this dude think he is?” Falcons tight end Derek Rackley told Wickersham.
The same veterans who frowned upon Crumpler’s gung-ho attitude changed their perception of him when they saw him hit the weights hard and practice with Vick as his rookie season progressed.
They also softened their stance when they learned about his recovery from his torn ACL injury at North Carolina in 1998, per ESPN.
Crumpler had a combined 785 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 61 receptions in his first two seasons in the National Football League from 2001 to 2002.
The Falcons averaged eight wins per year during that two-year time frame. They lost to Donovan McNabb’s Philadelphia Eagles in the 2002 NFC Divisional Round, 20-6.
When Reggie Kelly signed with the Cincinnati Bengals before the 2003 NFL season, Alge Crumpler enjoyed the best four-year stretch of his 1o-year pro football career.
2003 Falcons-Titans: Doug Johnson escapes a sack and hits Warrick Dunn short, Dunn turns it into an 86 yard TD! Watch the block by Alge Crumpler! pic.twitter.com/kA1POeqgCF
— Four Verts 🏈 (@FourVerticals_) August 11, 2020
Crumpler’s 44 receptions in 2003 were the most by an Atlanta tight end since the 1980 NFL campaign.
For that reason, the veterans who treated him with contempt during his rookie year came around. Alge Crumpler proved to them he was for real.
Several days after Crumpler signed a six-year, $26 million extension with the Falcons prior to the 2004 NFL season, he told Wickersham he wasn’t particular about statistics. He said he was more particular about how to get the most yardage out of his catches.
Crumpler did just that considering he was one of the focal points of the Falcon’s offense. His offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, wanted the team to average 31 passes per game.
Vick, the feisty and nimble Falcons quarterback, usually ran on nine of those pass attempts. That left Atlanta with an average of 22 pass attempts per outing.
By Wickersham’s estimate, Crumpler accounted for 26% of the Falcons’ receptions through the first 13 weeks of the 2004 NFL campaign.
Crumpler finished that year with 774 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 48 receptions.
It also wasn’t surprising that Crumpler’s increased load on offense led to four consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2003 to 2006.
Not only that, but Crumpler and Vick were also firing on all cylinders. One play late in the 2004 NFL campaign exemplified that fact.
Vick called for a play that had Crumpler running a seam route in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 14, 2004.
Vick took the snap, pump-faked, and left the middle of the field with Bucs strong safety Peerless Price as the only line of defense.
Crumpler changed his route midway to a post. Vick threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Crumpler seconds later.
The Falcons tight end asked his quarterback how he knew where he was on the field the following day. Vick told Crumpler he saw a hole in the defense and promptly took advantage, per Wickersham.
For his part, Vick gave Crumpler credit for making him a better signal caller.
“I know that if I put it anywhere near him, nine times out of ten he’s going to come down with it,” Vick told ESPN in 2004. “He’s made me a better quarterback.”
Not 1. Not 2. But 3 TD passes from Mike Vick to @Alge_Crumpler.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 26, 2019
As Alge Crumpler’s pro football career progressed, he knew instinctively when Vick was scrambling with the football. All he had to do was listen carefully to the crowd’s reaction.
According to ESPN, whenever the crowd collectively said, “Ooh!” Vick was scrambling and needed assistance from his teammates to gain extra yardage.
On the other hand, whenever the crowd said, “Aah!” Vick had already broken loose for a huge chunk of yardage or perhaps a touchdown.
Falcons tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski sometimes asked Crumpler why he changed his route during a game. The latter told him he took a hint from the crowd’s reaction—he knew Vick was off and running so he had to clear a path for him on the field.
Crumpler couldn’t just rely on his massive derriere to gain an advantage on the football field. At 6’2″, he wasn’t as tall as other tight ends. He also weighed 275 pounds at the peak of his pro football career—he couldn’t turn on the afterburners against speedier defenders.
Crumpler aptly summed up his success in the NFL in just one word.
“Deception’s my number one weapon,” Crumpler told ESPN in 2004. “I don’t look the part.”
Crumpler certainly had many memorable moments in Atlanta. However, he had a double whammy in the 2004 NFC Championship Game against the team the Falcons lost to in the Divisional Round two years earlier—the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not only did the Falcons lose in blowout fashion 27-10, but Crumpler was also on the receiving end of one of the most ferocious hits in Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins’ pro football career.
With Philadelphia leading 14-3 in the first half, Crumpler caught a pass from quarterback Michael Vick at the Eagles’ 10-yard line.
Dawkins, who was at least 60 pounds lighter than Crumpler, laid out the Falcons tight end with a vicious shoulder hit to the chest that Eagles fans still talk about to this day.
Brian Dawkins’ hit on Alge Crumpler was nearly a felony 😳 pic.twitter.com/umjREO1Tq0
— Athlete Tweets 🔥➐ (@AthleteTweetts) March 28, 2020
It turned out Dawkins, who had been hearing about pundits favoring the Falcons during the lead-up to the game, poured out his anger and frustration in that jarring collision with Crumpler.
“It just so happened that Alge was the one that got the brunt of the blow when it comes to the frustration and anger I felt,” Dawkins told ESPN’s Tim McManus in July 2018.
When Crumpler visited Philadelphia for a football camp in 2014, a 10-year-old approached him and told him he remembered Dawkins’ hit on him in the NFC title game more than nine years earlier.
After Crumpler’s four straight Pro Bowl nods from 2003 to 2006, he continued playing well for Atlanta. He had 444 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 42 receptions in the 2007 NFL season—his seventh and final season with the Falcons.
Unfortunately, Atlanta won just four games that year and missed the postseason for the fifth time since Crumpler’s rookie campaign in 2001.
The Falcons released Alge Crumpler on February 15, 2008. He signed with the Tennessee Titans 15 days later.
Crumpler had a combined 479 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 51 receptions with the Titans from 2008 to 2009.
Tennessee averaged nearly 11 wins per year from 2008 to 2009. Regrettably, the Titans lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC Divisional Round, 13-10.
Throughout Alge Crumpler’s decade-long pro football career, he was the epitome of class and loyalty. He exemplified these traits when he visited his friend and former Falcons teammate Michael Vick in a Kansas prison in 2008.
Crumpler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s I.J. Rosenberg that in the fall of 2015 he visited Vick, who was embroiled in an infamous dogfighting scandal, in prison for an hour.
Crumpler and Vick didn’t discuss football during their hour-long conversation. Instead, they mainly discussed Vick taking the blame for his predicament.
Vick ➡ Alge Crumpler. Madden cheat code 🎮 pic.twitter.com/IZUjMAw3fA
— TRNDS Sports App (@trnds_sports) April 10, 2020
The league reinstated Vick in 2009—Crumpler’s second year in Tennessee. Vick enjoyed subsequent stints with the two Pennsylvania teams—the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.
“There are always going to be people that hate him for what he did, but he has changed his life and turned it all around,” Crumpler told Rosenberg. “I am happy for him.”
Crumpler also compared Vick’s popularity in Atlanta to that of NBA star Dominique Wilkins and home run king Hank Aaron. Yet, he also observed that Vick never acted like a big-name rock star inside the Falcons’ locker room.
After Alge Crumpler finished his two-year stint in Tennesee, he signed with the New England Patriots on March 24, 2010. He had 52 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six receptions during his lone season in New England.
The Patriots had a 14-2 win-loss record in 2010. Unfortunately, they lost to Mark Sanchez’s New York Jets in the AFC Divisional Round, 28-21.
Alge Crumpler retired following the 2010 NFL season.
He finished his 10-year pro football career with 4,743 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns on 373 receptions.
During Crumpler’s seven-year tenure in Atlanta, he gave credit to Reggie Kelly and Brian Kozlowski for helping him become a top-notch tight end in the NFL, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Alge Crumpler met his wife Jenn during their college days at the University of North Carolina. The couple has three daughters: Kendal, Ava, and Campbell.
Crumpler and his family currently reside in Suwanee, GA. He drives his 42-foot RV to North Carolina to watch Tar Heels home games in the fall. He also attends every Atlanta Falcons home game, per Rosenberg.
— Alge Crumpler (@Alge_Crumpler) May 30, 2016
According to the Tennessee Titans’ official website, Alge Crumpler’s favorite things include:
- Movie: “The Negotiator”
- Television program: SportsCenter
- Actor: Samuel L. Jackson
- Actress: Halle Berry
- Tourist destination: Bahamas
- Hobby: Golf
- Candy: Snickers
- Food: Grilled salmon
The Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame inducted Alge Crumpler in 2014.