After three years in the Silver and Black, Maxx Crosby is a team captain and now a Pro Bowler.
But it hasn't been an easy journey for the defensive end, and while the honor means a lot to every player, the magnitude of the accolade caused the 24-year-old out of Eastern Michigan to reflect on how he got here.
"It brought back memories," Crosby said about the Pro Bowl nod, as he wiped away tears. "I'm going to get emotional. I was in rehab almost two years ago, and now I'm in a Pro Bowl. It's just a blessing, man. I show up, and I try to be the best teammate every day and show my guys that I care. That s— just hit home. It was special.
"It makes my family proud, my girl, everybody around me is calling, blowing up my phone. I'm crying like a baby because I know I've worked so hard, and it's starting to pay off."
On top of his family and friends' support, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has been a driving force of helping an ambitious Crosby reach new heights.
"I've got to say something about him because he pushes me every day," Crosby said. "[He] pushes me every day to be the best player I can be. I want to kill him sometimes, he wants to kill me, but he just wants to see the best for me. He knows what I want. I want to be the best in the league and he pushes me to be that guy every day."
This season Crosby has recorded 5.0 sacks, four passes defensed, 39 tackles and 25 quarterback hits, but a lot of his game has been in the pressures he brings each week – he led the league with 78 pressures before the Raiders latest matchup, according to Pro Football Focus.
His explosiveness has been noticed around the league by those who watch him on film and go up against him, including Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who called Crosby a "stud" earlier this season, and Browns guard Joel Bitonio, who faced Crosby at the line of scrimmage this week.
"Crosby has always been a guy that plays to the whistle, plays very hard. But this year, he's really taken a step up and he's become one of the more premier pass rushers in this league," Bitonio said before the game. "It's not all sacks; it's pressures, it's his disruptiveness."
While Crosby admits he may not have off-the-chart, crazy numbers like some defensive players around the league, his main goal is to be the best teammate he can be as he works to become the best player he can be.
"I just want to show people out there that it's not all about stats because I've had double-digits. I've done things like that but it's your impact," he said. "No matter what it is, it's your impact in the locker room, it's your impact on the field, affecting the game no matter what stats I get. I believe I do that every single Sunday and that's what I try to do."
The D-lineman learned of his selection to the 2022 Pro Bowl right before he took the field in Cleveland on Monday. And that Pro Bowl game, played in the Raiders' home stadium, will be another shining moment he can look back on as he continues his skyrocketing journey through the NFL.
"I really didn't believe it. I had to take a moment. I broke down. I just put in so much work and for having my teammates, my peers, coaches around the league – it's a dream come true."
View photos from the Raiders' Week 15 matchup against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.