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More Is Required: Maxx Crosby's method to the madness

By Levi Edwards | Digital Team Reporter

Welcome: Beware of Big Ass Dogs

This was my introduction to Maxx Crosby's world from the doormat to his Henderson, Nevada, home. The Pro Bowl edge rusher stood outside on a Thursday afternoon following an offseason workout at the Raiders practice facility.

A Polaris Slingshot, a custom burnt orange Porsche Cayenne and a two-toned black and gray Rolls Royce Phantom sat in the driveway.

It felt like the beginning to an episode of "MTV Cribs."

As he ushered me through the front door, I noticed a mini movie theatre off to the right with room enough for roughly four or five people to sit.

Crosby doesn't watch too many movies in that room, but instead uses it to watch practice and game film.

The house opens up to a dining room, kitchen and empty wine cellar. He joked about the house coming with the latter feature, considering it lacks any use. Crosby has been sober for over three years now after completing a recovery program ahead of his second NFL season. His sobriety date, March 11, 2020, is tattooed on his right hand as a constant reminder.

Maxx Crosby holds his daughter Ella Rose's hand.

While his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Ella Rose, played in the living room, his three well-behaved dogs, each with their own unique personalities, took turns following him around.

Brooklyn is the proclaimed "Queen Bee" by Maxx, as the dog that's been with him longest – since his college days at Eastern Michigan.

Durk is his middle "child," a 130-pound gentle giant American Bully named after hip-hop artist Lil Durk. Before his home, cars, iced out Cuban chains and diamond necklaces, Durk was his first purchase after being drafted in the fourth round by the Raiders.

"Once I got in the league, I'm like, 'I'm getting an XL bully, a big ass XL pit,' I need one of those," said Crosby. "So, I went to Oakland. First thing I bought was Durk."

The baby of the trio, Leo, sticks to Crosby's hip like glue. He believes Leo most resembles himself with a bit of a rambunctious side.

Maxx with dogs Leo and Durk
Maxx with dogs Leo and Durk

Maxx has always had a love for dogs – especially pit bulls. He's made an initiative, with his current platform and newly formed nonprofit, The Maxx Crosby Foundation, to lend a helping hand to various animal shelters to get pit bulls adopted as well as pay out of pocket for health costs.

The edge rusher's "fur babies" followed him into his home office where he keeps his various awards and accolades. Behind his desk on a whiteboard, a statement, handwritten in black marker, stood out.

I will be the greatest in the world. … Every Single Day.

As I prepared for this interview, a singular question lingered in my mind.

Who is Maxx Crosby?

From the outside, we see an elite edge rusher who plays with a relentless spirit on the gridiron. A player with a no-nonsense attitude focused on winning games, barely missing a snap on the field. A guy draped in custom-made jewelry with the diamonds dancing, chilling in the front row at UFC fights wearing his favorite pair of all-white Nike Air Force 1's.

But who is Maxx Crosby when the cameras aren't on him? To truly understand the player we've grown to know and love, we have to go back to where it all began – before the stadium lights, before the screaming fans, before the No. 98.

Maxx Crosby is a survivor

Maxx's upbringing has translated over to his solider mentality on the field. It's a mindset instilled in him since birth as the product of two true survivors.

His mother, Vera, is a first-generation immigrant of Serbian and Albanian descent who began working in a slaughterhouse at the age of 10. Years later, without having ever spoken any English, she made her way to America, landing in Michigan.

While working in the restaurant industry, she met Maxx's father, Bryan. He, like his wife, started working at an early age to help provide for his family in Detroit.

"I'm the person who I am because my mom went through a lot and my dad went through a lot," Maxx said. "They instilled in me that no matter what adversity is going on, no matter how hard the job is, literally never quit no matter what it is. If you start something, you've got to finish it."

Maxx is the middle child between older brother Myles and younger sister Milla. The five were a tight-knit family in Lapeer, Michigan, where Myles and Maxx played everything from football to basketball to video games together.

However, Myles, nearly three years older than Maxx, always seemed to have the upper hand.

"Maxx was very competitive, that would be the first thing that comes to mind," Myles said. "Most of our lives I was always bigger than he was, a little faster than he was. He was my younger bro, but our entire lives were just him and I together all the time. Since we were little, he always wanted to beat me. Tooth and nail, would do everything he could to beat me."


The path Maxx has forged almost seemed destined for Myles, the most revered athlete in the family through adolescence. Myles played safety in high school, earning a football scholarship to SMU, and now works in modeling, gracing the pages of GQ and Vanity Fair.

"My brother was hard on me as a kid. He always was bigger, stronger, faster, more intelligent. He was that guy," said Maxx. "I always looked up to him because I wanted to be that guy. He made it hard, but I do appreciate all the things that he pushed me to do because it made me a stronger person."

A turning point for the Crosby family came when Maxx was 10 years old. Hard times and the recession forced Crosby's father to find employment elsewhere.

Looking for a place to reset, the family set their eyes on Colleyville, Texas, where Maxx's grandfather lived.

Myles remembers his younger brother seemingly "calm, cool and always himself" despite the circumstances, describing him as someone who can "adapt to whatever environment he's in." Behind closed doors, that wasn't the case. It took some time for Maxx to adjust to his new environment.

"I grew up insecure," said Maxx. "I had run-ins with older kids, was picked on. It almost felt like I'm that middle child that never was the guy. It made me sick, having people treat me badly. I never wanted to be like that, no matter what.

"I still am that kid deep down. I remember all that stuff and I never want to belittle somebody or talk down to somebody because I'm at a different stature now. We're all human at the end of the day."

Maxx Crosby loves football

A historian of the game from an early age, Maxx remembers grabbing local newspapers to peruse the daily sports sections since he could read. He collected trading cards to keep with his favorite players statistics. The EA Sports Madden video game series was a staple in their household.

He started playing football in Michigan, and it became the one thing that stayed constant as he adjusted to life in Colleyville. Lucky for him, football damn near runs the state of Texas.

"Honestly, since I've been playing football, I don't think I've ever had a group of guys as close as we were," he said of his Colleyville Heritage High School teammates. "We're all from the same areas, played [together] in middle school, played all the way through high school together. That just kind of embodies what Colleyville is about.

"It's just like a bunch of cultures put in one. And that's what I loved about Texas so much. They're just a bunch of people coming together for one common goal."

Maxx began to emerge in the Texas football ranks as an outside linebacker. After initially playing middle linebacker, a growth spurt and added muscle mass helped him switch from middle linebacker to the edge rusher he is now. This time is also when Maxx realized he could go from being a serviceable high school player to a Division I college athlete.

But it was still a longshot to earn a football scholarship.

Considering his senior season at Colleyville Heritage High School was his best to date, he wasn't on too many scouts' radars. According to Myles, if Maxx hadn't landed an offer, he was looking into attending school in pursuit of becoming a sports broadcaster.

Maxx and a few friends attended a football camp during the spring of his 12th grade year put on by Eastern Michigan University. While showcasing his edge rushing abilities, he took a few snaps at tight end – open to making the position change if it meant getting to play at the collegiate level.

Eastern Michigan's defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin was intrigued by the potential he saw in the young player. Word got back to head coach Chris Creighton, who extended Maxx an offer – the only college offer he would get.

Creighton's introduction to the true determination of the "skinny, 6-foot-5 guy" was on the scout team that next fall. He remembers Maxx going up against their starting tackle Andrew Wylie, who now plays for the Washington Commanders. When Maxx started giving Wylie a run for his money daily in practice, Creighton started to believe a star was being born in front of his own eyes.

"He was just relentless," Creighton said. "That's not something he just turns on and off, he's that way. He just goes. You can try to train that, you can demand it, but some guys just have that in their spirit."

EMU and Creighton's guidance left a lasting imprint on Crosby, who recently returned to the university to announce a $1 million donation to the athletic department. With the donation, the Eagles' football field will bear his name: Maxx Crosby Field at Rynearson Stadium.

"I think he's going to achieve his goal of being the best to ever play the defensive end position," Creighton said. "He's convinced me of that. I still think him coming out and telling the whole world about his battle with alcohol. The stand that he's taking and the impact he's making on so many lives with that will always be the No. 1 thing of how I remember Maxx.

"I'm so freaking proud of him for who he is as a man, trying to be a great husband and a father."

Maxx Crosby is in love with Rachel

A bleach blonde 19-year-old Maxx was chilling in his dorm room on a Saturday with plans to watch TV and unwind, but those plans flew out the window after a phone call from his best friend and teammate Brogan Roback.

"He's like, 'I'll be there in three minutes, I've got these three soccer girls that want to hang out with us. I'll pick you up, Be ready.' That's just how he is. He's a nutcase," joked Crosby.

"But he scooped me up and we end up going and hanging out. That's where I met Rachel."

Rachel Washburn (now Crosby) started all 20 matches as a senior for the EMU Eagles soccer team, splitting time at the center back and outside back positions. Maxx had heard her name in passing around campus but had never met her.

Their first encounter in a Mexican restaurant that Saturday night in 2016 still makes Rachel laugh. A slightly intimidated Maxx (if you can imagine that) lied to her about his age. The redshirt freshman football player wanted to impress the senior soccer player.

The two started off as friends before seriously dating two months later. According to her, Maxx's sense of humor and free-flowing nature are what initially won her over.

"He's one of the funniest people you'll ever meet in your life. I don't think too many people get to see that side of him," she said. "Football Maxx is not really like that.

"He's so funny and goofy. He'll dance, he'll make up raps. On the field he's this relentless person, but at home he's mellow, chill. I don't think people get that he has such an opposite personality on-and-off the field."

No one has had quite as close a look at the evolution of Maxx as a person than Rachel. She saw him at his worst in active addiction trying to manage life as an NFL rookie, standing by his side as he entered rehab in 2020.

She's also watched him turn his life around, locking into an intense daily routine that consists of waking up at 5 a.m. every day to workout, abiding by strict diet and going to sleep at the same time. Maxx even ups the ante on his training program in the offseason, adding in 10-mile hikes and MMA sparing sessions with current UFC Middleweight Champion Sean Strickland.

Seeing the lengths he goes through daily while chasing his highest potential has made her proud, and protective, of her husband.

"I don't know if I could handle it as well as he has," she said of his NFL stardom. "I look at what people say about him, and it drives me insane. But he takes everything on the chin, he's so humble about everything. I care about him so much; I'd go to war with anybody about Maxx."

"We're very different, but Rachel is always in a position where she wants to defend me and she'll fight for me," Maxx said. "She'll go to the end of the wall, and sometimes it might come off a little aggressive, but she's passionate about not only herself, but me as well.

"Rachel's a pit bull in that way, and that's why I love her."


Maxx Crosby is a girl dad

Crosby was fresh off a two-sack performance in a disappointing 30-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when he received some life-changing news he'd been anticipating.

"Of course, we're playing the Chiefs. I'm stressed out. I thought to myself that the worst-case scenario was me going into labor while he's on an away game," said Rachel. "And of course, that happens."

What had just transpired on the field would ultimately mean nothing to Crosby the second he heard Rachel's voice on the phone.

"I can't tell you how stressful that situation was unless you're in it. Rachel called me on the plane and was like, 'My water broke,'" he said. "It's my first child. I don't know what to do. We got on the plane. I'm in the cockpit like, 'We need to go. Everyone sit the hell down. We need to take off. Rachel's water just broke.'"

After 72 hours of labor, Rachel gave birth to Ella Rose Crosby on October 13, 2022.

Now 14 months into fatherhood, Ella has brought a level of joy to Maxx's life that's incomparable to his first love of football.

"Everybody told us when Rachel was about to have the baby that you'll never look at life the same. You're going to change immediately," he said. "Everybody told me that and I didn't understand what that meant. Now I totally understand. When you have a real responsibility for another human being, it changes everything."

Work-life balance has come effortlessly for "The Condor," who seems to find ease in flipping the switch between a predator on the football field to a loving husband and father at home.

"He loves on her all the time. You can tell she is so in love with him," Rachel said. "He's at football all the time, but he goes out of his way to make time for her. I just think once you have a child, it stops being about you and it becomes about her.

"It's not about me and him anymore. It's fully about Ella, growing our family and doing everything for her."

Maxx Crosby is chasing greatness

What do Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Muhammad Ali all have in common?

  1. They're all world-class athletes with multiple championships.
  2. They're all tattooed on Maxx Crosby's torso.
  3. They, like Crosby, had an insatiable desire to be great.

"Kobe and Michael, their mentality and just how they approach the game and their work ethic and their mindset to get better and to dominate whatever situation or whatever game there," Maxx said of why he admires these athletes. "Ali was such a savage when it comes to his mentality and whoever he was going against, he loved when they doubted him.

"That's how I try to apply myself every single day. To be the best version of myself, the most competitive."

Crosby is chasing the same legacy. But not just as a football player.

Despite his intense schedule, he makes time for the people he loves the most. He makes time for his wife, daughter and dogs after a long day of football to play together or watch "The Sopranos" or "The Lincoln Lawyer."

He makes time for his brother, frequently getting on Xbox Live with to play NBA 2K or EA Madden – just like when they were growing up together.

He makes time for Raider Nation, always reaching out a hand to take a picture, sign an autograph or show love and appreciation on social media.

Yes, Maxx Crosby is a two-time Pro Bowler and the Raiders' 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. Yes, Maxx Crosby is one hell of a football player.

But at the end of the day, he's still just a kid from Lapeer, Michigan, who loves playing football, who likes making people laugh, who wants to do everything he can for his family.


When asked how he would define himself, Maxx paused and sat still across from me for a quick moment. It was apparent he was trying to collect his thoughts.

A lot of times greatness can be found in simplistic fashion. And while he doesn't feel he's reached the peak yet in his journey, he's building a solid foundation for who he's still becoming.

"Maxx Crosby is an extremely driven, focused, passionate individual," he said. "I love to love. I feel like I'm still learning who I am. I feel like I'm still growing as a man. I feel like my vision of myself is a lot clearer today than it was just yesterday or the day before.

"Maxx Crosby is a guy who's constantly seeking to be the best version of himself on a daily basis. Whether that's with football or business or family or anything I get myself into it. I'm spending time on what I want to be the best version of myself.

"I'm passionate. I'm driven. I'm focused. I'm obsessed. I love what I do."

Photos courtesy of the Crosby Family.


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View photos of Maxx Crosby at home with his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Ella Rose.

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