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Maxx Crosby evolves from student to teacher at annual Sack Summit


Maxx Crosby had to remind his peers, some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, that Rome truly wasn't built in a day.

The Raiders' Pro Bowl edge rusher stood tall on the field at UNLV's Fertitta Football Complex, surrounded by nearly 60 NFL defensive linemen past and present. They joined together for Sack Summit, an annual event initially organized by three-time All-Pro Von Miller. With the intent of networking and lending expertise to other defensive linemen, the summit has become a staple in Las Vegas since 2017. Crosby, who attended the event the last several years, was added into the mix as a keynote speaker and host.

"Von hit me up after the summit last year and said, 'Yo, we're doing it in Vegas. You're becoming one of the best in the world. I want you to kind of take this over in a way,'" Crosby said. "I just look at it as a collaborative thing and it was a no-brainer for me. I didn't even second guess or question it."

Most of the dialogue centered around being unpredictable off the line scrimmage, with Crosby, Miller and Jordan all giving pointers on proper technique and setting up their attack. Crosby emphasized how vital it is to start the game fast and wear out the offensive line over time.

However, arguably some the best advice he gave to his peers was a lesson in having patience.

Coming off a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2023, Crosby admitted putting too much value into his statistics earlier in his career. He totaled 10 sacks his rookie season, but slid to seven in his sophomore campaign. While it initially bothered him, he made the realization that impacting the game in any way is all that matters. He believes some of his best games have been where he didn't produce a sack, but continued applying pressure on the quarterback from start to finish to help set up opportunities for his teammates to make plays across the defensive line.

"Everybody's got to know himself," Crosby said, speaking to his fellow linemen. "I tell people, the stats are going to come. Don't worry about that. It's all about how you are affecting the game."

Miller and Jordan have gotten to know Crosby well since he entered the league in 2019. The Silver and Black edge rusher sought out advice from the two over the years, which made them that much prouder seeing the student become the teacher at the Sack Summit, including taking the lead in the film study portion of the event.

"You could feel the anxiety for him to be great since Year 2," Jordan said. "But when you have a guy like that who's like, 'I'm doing the most that I can, how can I get better?' you literally just tell him, 'Relax bro. Everything will come in due time.' Now he's a monster. He's had such great success over the last four, five years, and now he's so willing to give everything that he has in all phases. The same Maxx you see on gamedays is the same Maxx that you're going to hear talking at the Sack Summit."

"His mindset coming into the game, his mindset off the football field, I know Maxx off the football field as well and he's such an incredible guy," Miller said. "He's rubbed off on me on and off the football field and I'm a firm believer in 'iron sharpens iron.' He's an amazing human being on and off the football field, and when you position yourself around guys like that – you are who you hang with."

Malcolm Koonce is one of the teammates that has greatly benefited from Crosby's impact. He's competed with and against Crosby on a daily basis since the 2021 third-rounder arrived to Las Vegas. Like his teammate and mentor, Koonce has also struggled internally with not producing as many sacks to his liking. Crosby pointed out his teammate as a perfect example of someone who's displayed the patience he was trying to teach as Koonce hit a career-high eight sacks last season.

"You have the best pass rushers here so you can really pick people's brains and it's amazing to see how other people can look at the same thing you do but in their own eyes," Koonce said after attending his first Sack Summit. "I appreciate Maxx 100 percent because while I was going through that, it kind of felt like I was going unnoticed. But he was actually noticing everything I was doing. I appreciate him and the time he gave me to speak."

Along with Crosby and Koonce, seven Raiders defensive linemen attended the event, including John Jenkins, Elerson Smith, David Agoha, Janarius Robinson and Tyree Wilson. With the summit taking place in the Raiders' backyard, it would only make sense for the unit to continue creating chemistry going into Training Camp later this month.

"I told these guys a few months back I wanted them to be there. Trying to get everybody here and just get to work with your guys, share and talk," Crosby said of inviting his teammates. "They get to work with me every single day, we have conversations on and on and on, but them getting around Von or Warren Sapp, some of the bigger guys. ... That's invaluable, that information. That's what it's all about, doing it together.

"We're on a mission. We're trying to be the best in the world as a front so having those guys with me is an honor. They didn't second guess anything, they just said, 'Where's the address? We'll be there.'"

In collaboration with the Las Vegas Raiders assistant general manager, Champ Kelly, the Raiders hosted C.H.A.M.P. Camp, a weekend event for athletes to develop their skills on and off the field.

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