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Connections: 'It's going to be incredible' for Maxx Crosby to return home to Michigan 

Believe it or not, Maxx Crosby was at one time a "diehard Lions fan."

Before moving to Texas in his adolescence, Crosby grew up in Michigan with his parents and two siblings. A young Crosby still remembers growing up watching the Lions play, mesmerized by the dominance of Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who spent 12 seasons in Detroit.

"Those teams back then, I feel like they were way too damn talented to lose that many games," Crosby joked about his childhood team. "But they had some good years. They had a couple of 10-win, 11-win seasons."

Following his family's move to Texas, he became an outside linebacker and defensive end at Colleyville Heritage High School, a metro area outside of Dallas. Crosby wasn't heavily recruited coming out of high school and even considered switching to tight end to generate attention from colleges.

He and a childhood friend attended a football camp where several colleges had eyes to recruit. His friend had already spoken with Eastern Michigan University about potentially joining their team, and then the lanky, yet athletic Crosby caught the attention of Eastern Michigan's defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. Word got back fast to the head coach, Chris Creighton.

"Here's this long tight end, defensive end. He played basketball. We quickly found out he grew up in Lapeer, Michigan," Chris Creighton said of his initial scouting report on Crosby. "I remember all of us going, 'Hey what do we think? Do we like them both? Are they both offers?' After that camp, we pulled the trigger on both of those guys."

Eastern Michigan was Crosby's only Division I scholarship coming out of high school. He redshirted his freshman year, after losing 40 pounds following his senior year of high school. While Creighton had his initial reservations taking on a 210-pound edge rusher, Crosby got in the weight room and started the beginning stages of becoming "The Condor." From 2016-18, he totaled 41 tackles for loss and 20 sacks while leading Eastern Michigan to two bowl game appearances.

This offseason, Crosby returned to Eastern Michigan to impart some wisdom to the current Golden Eagles. In the process, he saw his name and number imprinted inside Rynearson Stadium for the first time since he was placed in the school's Ring of Honor.

"Getting in the Ring of Honor here is a really big deal," said Creighton. "You've got to be on an NFL 53-man roster for an entire year or deemed an All-American by a major media outlet. So, it's a big deal and we've had some unbelievable players here in our history. For his name to be up there is appropriate.

"Him coming back and speaking to our team, from a 1-10, he was a 12. He talked to them for about 45 minutes to an hour. ... Because of Maxx, the next morning as I'm finishing up an official visit, I can't tell you how many guys were out there on the field, on their day off, getting extra work in on the field because he was so inspiring about how committed he is to being the very best."

Crosby first played against the Detroit Lions during his rookie season in Oakland Coliseum, however this will be his first time playing them in Michigan. A lot has changed for him since that last encounter. The two-time Pro Bowler currently accounts for more than 45 percent of his team's sacks this season while leading the league in quarterback pressures (43). Additionally he's coming off a 2022 season in which he lead the league in tackles for loss.

His durability is also unrivaled, playing the most defensive snaps of any defensive lineman the last two seasons (1,462).

"Maxx has made himself into a defender that that is good in each area. The only thing we don't do is drop him into coverage, but if we did, he'd probably be good at that too," Josh McDaniels said earlier this season. "But his effort and his toughness and then you combine that with an uncanny knack for how he can bend and change the angle of his body to try to avoid certain things and get disruptive plays in the backfield. ... Nobody works harder than he does and it's in every area – run game, pass game, pass rush, contain, etc. Does a really good job of working at the things we ask him to do. He's an elite leader, and he's an elite player."

The Condor said he's looking forward to catching up with Coach Creighton on Sunday before the game, teasing "a big announcement" soon to be made in partnership with Eastern Michigan. Obviously he's excited for this primetime matchup as much as any game he's suited up for in his career, but admitted this one will have a little extra juice on it.

"It's going to be incredible. I'm super excited," said Crosby. "Obviously going to have a lot of family and friends in attendance. It's my first time playing back in Michigan so I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Other notable connections

  • Raiders coaching assistant/returners Danny Amendola played for the Lions for two seasons (2019-20).
  • Raiders special teams assistant Derius Swinton II served as an offensive assistant with the Lions in 2018.
  • Raiders running back Ameer Abdullah was selected 54th overall by the Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft. He played the three seasons in Detroit (2015-18).
  • Raiders quarterback Brian Hoyer went to Michigan State (2004-08).
  • Raiders cornerback David Long Jr. went to Michigan (2016-18).
  • Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane attended Western Michigan (2014-17).
  • Lions senior defensive assistant John Fox served as the Raiders defensive coordinator for the 1994-95 seasons.
  • Lions assistant head coach/running backs coach Scottie Montgomery played for the Raiders in 2003.

As the Silver and Black prepare for their Week 8 matchup with the Detroit Lions, take a look back at their past matchups through the years.

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