McCrane brings passion for preservation to downtown project

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Matt McCrane stands next to the rented sky lift after he and Ryan Bailey ripped the sheet metal off the front of the building at 406 Center Friday morning.

If you want to talk football with Matt McCrane, he’ll talk football.

Standing in front of an old, vacant building at 406 Center in Brownwood Friday morning, where McCrane had helped tear off sheet metal to reveal an intricate display of brickwork, the 25-year-old kicker had another topic on his mind.

“For me personally I love Brownwood history,” McCrane said, referencing his great-grandfather, Joe Harper, who owned the Harper Grocery Store.

McCrane, a Brownwood Lions standout who graduated in 2013, went on to play at Kansas State University. McCrane played briefly with three teams in the NFL before being signed by the newly created XFL to play for the New York Guardians.

COVID ended the league’s brief existence, and McCrane hopes another NFL team will sign him —if the NFL has a season. He and his wife, Megan, moved recently from Fort Worth to Brownwood, where he works out and kicks regularly at Gordon Wood Stadium.

“My wife and I were in Fort Worth and then we decided we wanted to move back to Brownwood to help out downtown and get the revitalization going,” McCrane said. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help out.

“My wife and I bought the Green Room, the old A1 Locksmith, about a month and a half ago and we are turning that into our apartment.”

McCrane met Ryan and Tommie Bailey when the Baileys bought the building at 406 Center, planning to turn it into a baby and children’s clothing store.

“They were over here working one day and I was over here working on ours, and I had talked with them,” McCrane said. I hadn’t met them before, and asked them what their intentions were for the building. I just said ‘hey I’d love to volunteer to help you.’ I want to help Brownwood out and I want to help downtown grow. They put me to work.”

McCrane said the plan was to remove the awning and the sheet metal from the front of the building. “They wanted to expose the brick behind it, and we found a gem,” McCrane said. “We knew there were windows from the backside from the upstairs, but we didn’t realize it had the decorative brick.”

McCrane said he’s not running a business. “I just do it myself,” McCrane said. “For us it’s more historical preservation. We want to preserve, and we like the historical integrity of buildings. That’s why we picked picked the A-1 Locksmith, and we put the mural on the wall that Amanda (Coers) did for us.

“I have a passion for history and especially Brownwood history. It’s been unfortunate that it’s been forgotten for so long. Now we’re finally able to get it going again.”

McCrane said it’s about giving back, noting those who’ve helped in previous years. “And now we’ve got Kim (Bruton), of course, with the bookstore,” McCrane said. “We have Teddy’s Brewhaus. We have Pioneer, all these things that are happening downtown and we’re trying to get that going again. So, whatever I can do to help.”

When asked about football and kicking, McCrane patiently answered questions. When asked if kicking is mental or physical, McCrane said kicking “is probably 90 percent mental. It really is. To me, I’m one kick at a time. I’m focused on the task at hand while I’m doing it.

“I can’t worry about what happened before. If I’m worried about the missed kick, or the atmosphere or the fans, how my home life situation is, if I’m worried about all that, I can’t do my job.”

McCrane said he’s only been nervous while kicking once in his career.

“It was in college,” McCrane said. “We were on college game day, K State against Oklahoma I believe, and I just was hyping the situation up. All my friends were watching, my family back home, ESPN, and I just learned not to do that.”

McCrane said when he’s on the field, he hears the roar of the crowd, noting a college stadium is louder than an NFL stadium,

“And then of course you’re taking your steps back, you hear the announcer on the Jumbotron — ‘Matt McCrane for a 50-yard …’” McCrane said, imitating the cadance of an announcer.

“Also what helped me is when I go out for a kick, I try not to think how far it is,” McCrane said. “So whether it’s a 35-yarder, whether it’s a 55-yarder, I don’t think about that. I just hit same ball every time and so far it’s worked.”

The kick has to be away in 1.25 seconds. “If we’re over that, the kick will get blocked,” McCrane said.

The NFL is “kind of at a standstill on whether there will be a season,” McCrane said. “I’ve heard from a few teams but of course nobody’s signing during this period because we don’t know. They don’t know if there’s going to be a season.”

When asked what NFL players are like, McCrane said, “it’s just every-day guys that know how to work hard and that have a goal.”

McCrane knows what team he hopes to play for: the one that will give him a job.

“Any job in the NFL’s a good job because they’re so hard to get,” McCrane said.