The 6-2, 208 pound center and linebacker came out of Vigor High School in Pritchard, where he was an All-State and All-American selection at center, to play for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. He lettered for the 1963, 1964, and 1965 Crimson Tide teams. He was an All-Southeastern Conference selection in 1964 and 1965, and an All-American in 1965.
He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets after the 1966 Senior Bowl and played from 1966 to 1972, helping defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He lead the league in 1968 for safeties, and in 1969 in non-offensive touchdowns and interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was voted the "Most Popular Jet" in 1970. He still holds the title for career safeties in the American Conference with 65.
Crane returned to Tuscaloosa as an assistant to Bryant from 1974 to 1978 and was an assistant at the University of Mississippi from 1978 to 1981. He returned to Mobile and later oversaw the Catholic Youth Organization sports programs in that city. He and his wife, Hiekie, had one son, Paul, Jr, who died in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2007.