Maxx Crosby's Importance as a Leader

February 05, 2024

Athlete Studio

Maxx Crosby awaits Thursday's verdict on whether he will be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Despite the anticipation, the Las Vegas Raiders' All-Pro pass rusher deserves commendation for persevering through a painful knee injury throughout the 16-game season.

Having injured his knee in Week 2, Crosby revealed the extent of the damage to the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that reduces friction in joints, which progressively worsened due to repeated impacts. Additionally, he suffered a thumb injury in October. Despite these challenges, Crosby's impact extended beyond the field, making a significant difference in the locker room throughout the previous season.

While discussing his role as a leader, Crosby emphasized the daily challenges he faces and expressed satisfaction with his position. In a recent Zoom conversation, he shared, "I have been a captain for three years, and every day it’s a battle. But it’s exactly what I want to be doing."

Crosby's influence extends to motivating and supporting his teammates, evident in his support for Malcolm Koonce and his adept handling of team dynamics amid challenges such as Chandler Jones' departure and the coaching changes.

Reflecting on his leadership style, Crosby stressed the importance of spending time with teammates, getting to know them, and building bridges. This personal connection aids in navigating the challenges the Raiders often face.

Crosby drew from his own life struggles, particularly with alcohol addiction, to offer guidance to his teammates. He encourages a positive perspective, stating, "I can push that on to my guys. I am like, ‘Listen, it could be worse. There is somebody going through worse than us. We’re blessed, and at the end of the day, there is work to be done, and you have to keep showing up every day.'"

The departure of close friend Chandler Jones and subsequent team challenges, including the firing of coach Josh McDaniels, did not deter Crosby. He remains focused on supporting his teammates and appreciates the leadership changes, expressing satisfaction with Antonio Pierce's appointment as head coach and Patrick Graham's return as defensive coordinator.

Crosby's leadership extends to mentoring younger players like Malcolm Koonce, predicting his success even when others doubted. Acknowledging different leadership styles for each player, Crosby emphasizes the importance of being tough on younger teammates, drawing from his own experiences seeking advice from veterans like Von Miller and Aaron Donald.

Reflecting on his challenging interactions with coaches early in his career, Crosby appreciates the impact on his development as a leader. He credits coaches like Brentson Buckner and Rod Marinelli for their demanding approach, acknowledging that their coaching style contributed to his growth.

Under interim coach Antonio Pierce, the defense excelled, allowing only 16 points per game, the best in the NFL. Crosby attributes the team's success to players feeling more relaxed and a coaching approach that trusted the players.

Ending the season with career highs in sacks, combined tackles, and tackles for losses, Crosby is among the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year. While T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett are considered favorites due to their teams making the playoffs, Crosby remains determined to achieve his goals, aspiring not only to be the best at his position but the best overall, with aspirations of being a Super Bowl champion.

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