Raiders’ Maxx Crosby emotional after making Pro Bowl: ‘I was in rehab almost two years ago’

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Between Jon Gruden’s email leak (a controversy that ultimately cost him his job) and fallout from Henry Ruggs’ arrest on felony drunk driving charges, it’s been a chaotic season for the Raiders, who improved to 7-7 with Monday’s last-second win in Cleveland. But amid the drama, third-year pass-rusher Maxx Crosby has emerged as a legitimate star, anchoring the Raiders’ defense with 43 tackles, five sacks and four pass deflections.

Crosby learned Monday he’d been selected as one of three Raiders Pro Bowlers, joining teammates Denzel Perryman and A.J. Cole at this year’s event, which will be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the first time. The fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan was understandably emotional, reflecting on his path to sobriety after a month-long stint in rehab in 2020.

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“I was in rehab almost two years ago and now I’m in the Pro Bowl,” said Crosby, PFF’s second-ranked edge defender out of 109 qualifiers this season. “Everybody around me is calling, blowing up my phone. I’m crying like a baby, because I just know I’ve worked so hard and it’s starting to pay off.”

Crosby entered rehab at the start of the COVID pandemic last March after discovering that alcohol had become a “crutch.” “Alcohol, partying and all that s--- became too much of a distraction in my life. It became just overwhelming. I've always had issues with drinking and partying throughout high school and college,” Crosby shared with ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez earlier this year. “Alcoholism runs in my family and I'm an alcoholic. So, for me, I knew it was something that was always a crutch. I always knew I had a problem.”

After checking out of rehab, Crosby entered a sober living facility in Venice Beach, where he stayed for the remainder of that offseason. Throughout his recovery, Crosby has often confided in teammate Darren Waller, who endured his own substance abuse battle before turning his life around. “It was a big struggle but looking back on my journey, I know five years, 10 years down the road, I'll look back and be like, that was the biggest offseason of my life,” said Crosby, who admitted his experience getting clean was “mentally” draining. “I know if I can make it through that s--- and get sober, I can do anything.”

The Raiders hold a slim but not insurmountable 11-percent playoff probability (that’s according to Fivethirtyeight.com) with games still remaining against the Broncos, Colts and Chargers in Weeks 16-18.

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