Monday, March 30, 2020

Cole Croston, former Patriots offensive lineman, settles into new role as a business banker

Mar 28, 2020
Mason Dockter

Cole Croston stands in the lobby of Pioneer Bank in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. Croston, a former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots now works as a Business Banker for Pioneer Bank, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal

SERGEANT BLUFF -- Cole Croston wants to be known for more than his NFL career.  
The former Iowa Hawkeye and New England Patriots offensive lineman recently started his banking career at Pioneer Bank's location in his hometown of Sergeant Bluff.
While some bankers probably dream of playing in the NFL, for Croston, it's somewhat the reverse. He wants people to know he's now a business banker. 
"Football has kind of defined my life up until the last few months, where all I did, and all I was known for, was playing football," Croston said. "I just don't want football to be, 100 percent Cole Croston. Obviously, it was a part of me in the past. But now I've kind of moved past that." 
Cole Croston talks about his time in the NFL playing for the New England Patriots, Wednesday. He now works at Pioneer Bank in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, March 4, 2020 | Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal
Croston, 26, was a prep standout at Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School and went on to Iowa, where he started as an offensive tackle for two years and received honorable mention All-Big Ten honors his senior season
In May 2017, the Patriots signed Croston as a rookie free agent. Against heavy odds, he made the Patriots 53-man roster as a reserve due to his versatility playing both guard and tackle. Inactive for the first nine games of the season, he made his NFL debut in Week 11 in a 33-8 win over the Raiders.
The Patriots made Super Bowl LII that year, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 41-33. Croston was inactive for the 2018 game, as well as Super Bowl LIII, where the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3.
His NFL career ended late in 2019, and Croston was back home by January. He said the close of his NFL career was brought on by "a combination of things." 
"I mean, all good things have to come to an end. Struggled through some injuries here and there," he said. "I was just kind of ready to move on from football. They have all these studies out now, and the health aspect of it -- I liked being able to walk away, literally." 
Cole Croston talks about his time in the NFL playing for the New England Patriots, Wednesday. He now works at Pioneer Bank in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, March 4, 2020. | Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal

Croston probably could have gone anywhere he wanted after his NFL days were over. He's seen big cities. Yet he chose to move back to Sergeant Bluff. 
"Iowa's always been home for me. The East Coast was quite an experience, different culture, everything over there, and I enjoyed it. But, I'd never really see myself living anywhere but here," he said. 
Why did Croston become a banker? His father, Dave Croston, who was also a starting offensive tackle for Iowa in the mid-1980s and later played for the Green Bay Packers, had a lot to do with it. 
"My dad always kind of pushed me to, he wanted me to be an accountant," the younger Croston said. (Dave Croston works in pharmaceutical sales.)
But while he was a student at the University of Iowa, Cole Croston said he "kind of realized that, maybe accounting wasn't for me." 
"Finance was kind of an alternate path that was something I found enjoyable," he added. 
Three of Croston's football helmets -- one from his days playing for Sergeant Bluff, one from his days at Iowa and one from the Patriots -- decorate his office. The helmets are displayed on a shelf physically behind where Croston sits in his office; he uses the helmets' strategic placement in his office as a metaphor for how he's "moved past" the sport. 
But he doesn't decorate his finger with his Super Bowl ring from Super Bowl LIII. "I've always been a low-key kind of person, and, you know, the ring is the size of my entire hand." 
The Super Bowl ring will probably make its way to Pioneer Bank eventually, but not for showing off: "I'm looking forward to bringing it in here and actually getting it in a safe deposit box, which is probably the best move for me." 
He chose Pioneer Bank because of its "team culture," as he described it. 
"I was kind of looking for, like a team culture, which is tough to find. Kind of like a tight-knit group. I had been to this bank a few times, Pioneer, and I had kind of gotten that feel. And the more I hung around here, the more I just realized that, I fit this mold," he said. "The culture aspect of what Pioneer brings was kind of the same culture aspect that Iowa -- the Iowa Hawkeyes -- brought, the New England Patriots brought." 
He was living with his parents earlier this month, but he recently acquired a house in Sioux City's Whispering Creek neighborhood and was planning to set up house there shortly. 
"Looking forward to moving into that place in about a month here," Croston said.

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