He provides intellect, leadership and a great personality. Cramer's personality, and level headedness has allowed him to realize he won't play football forever. In fact, he has prepared for life without the pads. The Dartmouth alum acquired a psychology degree and has been a frequent student to the NFL's extended academic programs. Whether it is in the Ivy League or the National Football League, Cramer stands out in more ways than one.
The foundation for his successful future was laid in high school. A team captain in all three sports he played (basketball, football, and track) at Middleton (Wis.) High School, Cramer had a supportive team cheering him on - his parents. His father, Gregg, an English teacher and assistant JV football coach of 35 years, threw Casey into the athletic scene early. Casey said, "I was brought up in the school and with him at practice. So to say that he was an influence, he definitely was."
Educational effort remained a priority in the Cramer household, although his parents kept him from seeing his report cards. Casey commented, "They wouldn't let me look at them. They said, 'Well did you try your best?' I would say, 'Well yeah,' and they would say, 'OK well that's good.' I was very internally motivated. So that kind of carried on."
Cramer's mother, Nancy, an occupational therapist, inspired him to continue reaching for goals after she went through an unfortunate experience. "My mom had breast cancer when I was 10 years old. After that she kind of changed her life," Casey said.
She recognized how quickly life can be taken away, and decided to go back to school. Nancy then earned a Master's and PhD in Psychology. Casey explained, "Her mentality changed, and she said, 'Casey, if you want to do something, go out and do it.' And with education, she and my father wanted me to get the best one possible."
As college gradually approached, they visited schools on the East Coast. Cramer said, "She took me to all the Ivy League schools except for Harvard and said, 'This is something you can actually do, if you want.' I had never been to the East Coast before so it was really a nerve-racking experience."
Cramer, who shined in the classroom, admitted his athletic ability in football wasn't spectacular. "I wasn't very good out of high school, and I was really undersized. So I didn't have any schools really look at me, but I sent out a bunch of tapes." He got an offer from Dartmouth and took it.
He thrived at Dartmouth on the field and made the All-Ivy team two times. He finished his career first in school history for touchdown receptions (21) and posted 11 career games with 100 or more receiving yards. He also stepped in as a backup punter and earned reps as an option quarterback while others were injured.
Cramer has now spent a collective two and a half years with the Tennessee Titans, where he has contributed talent to special teams and as a reserve fullback.
Teammate David Thornton commented on Cramer's versatility, "He understands the offense and plays multiple positions. He can play every special team position. He's a guy that is really a jack-of-all trades."
Cramer's inspiration from his parents allowed him to realize the big picture: life exists beyond football. His passion to embrace knowledge and challenges continued when he left Dartmouth. He was drafted in the seventh round (228th overall) of the 2004 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In four off-seasons he has attended various educational programs sponsored by the NFL, including impressive curriculums at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Cramer has prided himself on preparing for the future through the educational programs. "It's been great for me because it has continued to help me think about life after football. I never ever imagined I'd be playing football in the NFL, and when I did, I never imagined I'd play for very long. So every year I think, 'Man this is it for me.' So preparing for afterwards is good."
Thornton responded, "I can go to him if I have a question with anything that needs to be answered from any standpoint. He covers a broad area of knowledge on and off the field."
Teammates have said Cramer has a captivating spirit about him and has been recognized repeatedly as an outstanding leader with genuine character.
Good friend and teammate, Tuff Harris stated, "He is a great leader because he studies himself and tries to maximize his potential on the field, off the field, and has helped a lot of players." He also commented on his colorful personality, "Casey is one of a kind. He is a guy that once you see him, your day is better already. He's always joking. He's always keeping it light, but can be serious at times letting you know what it takes to get things done. So to me he is like a big brother."
Thornton also added, "Casey is a people person. Everyone loves Casey. He is guy who works extremely hard and makes the best of his talents."
Cramer is clearly a leader on the team to many, but he is also quick to identify a role model. His name is George Landolt, a former investment broker who contributes most of his time teaching a class called "Servant Leadership."
Cramer spoke about the impact Landholt has had on his life, "He's an extremely good listener. So I've learned a lot from him and his motives, which are faith based. He's extremely gifted at hearing what is going on in someone's life even though the person isn't actually saying it. He's been instrumental with helping me grow as a listener, as a teammate and as a person. He teaches a class in servant leadership, which focuses on teaching a different kind of leadership. Instead of you being a leader and having people working for you, use your status to help the others around you. You spend all your time serving the people under and around you and help them work harder by encouraging them and providing tools and the things they need to service the people around them. And so it is really like an inverted triangle, working from the bottom up instead of the top down. It's been pretty cool and has changed the perspective on my life."
Lastly Cramer noted, "This platform doesn't last forever. So that's hard but encouraging because I can really pour myself into the bigger picture."