Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, as part of her “Vegas Nation: Takeaways” podcast, producer/videographer Heidi Fang talks to a Raiders player or personality. This has been edited for clarity and completeness. This week: defensive end Maxx Crosby.
Heidi Fang: The Raiders in the Mike Mayock Era have drafted a lot from major football programs, like Alabama, LSU. Being an Eastern Michigan guy, what does that say for your coaches, the program and how it got you prepared for the NFL?
Maxx Crosby: Being a small school guy, you definitely carry that chip on your shoulder. And you know, it’s crazy. When I first went to Eastern Michigan, I always had the dream of playing in the NFL. But I was still a kid at the time and I really didn’t know what my future was going to look like. I give all the credit to those coaches. They groomed me into the man I am today. You know, they helped me, not only on the field, but off the field, in just every way possible. That’s why I feel like I play with just a different edge than a lot of guys.
HF: When you look at your first season (10 sacks), how do you feel that you can improve going into your second season?
MC: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to it. Looking at my season, I had a lot of ups and downs. I didn’t really get playing until the fourth game. So, going into the offseason and seeing where I finished compared to how I looked in the beginning, it was like night and day.
HF: Last season you experienced “Hard Knocks,” you break your hand, and now this season you have the virus happening and trying to train virtually. What have you learned dealing with this type of adversity?
MC: I feel like that’s just life. Everything isn’t going to be mapped out and perfect and go the way that you want it to go. I think about Eastern Michigan. When I first got there, they were thinking about canceling our program. We were 1-11 my first season. But we ended up turning it around and going to multiple bowl games and being the best defense in the conference. So when I think about stuff like that, it’s like, everything isn’t going to be easy. … So it’s just about sticking to your guns and working hard because once that season comes it’s really going to show who’s been working and who hasn’t.
HF: You have a new defensive line coach in Rod Marinelli after playing for Brentson Buckner last year. … Have you been able to speak yet with Marinelli and have you noticed any differences in the two coaching styles?
MC: First of all, coach Buck was a great influence on me — on my life, on the field. That dude taught me a ton. I still talk to him ‘til this day. I feel like I’m gonna have a close mentor for the rest of my life. … But we got Marinelli now and he’s bringing another aspect to the D-line room. It’s going to be a little bit different, but he’s a legend. He’s been coaching for 50 years, he won Super Bowls and he’s football 24-7. And that’s exactly what I am. So we get along great.
HF: I know that you follow MMA. Who is your favorite fighter is and why?
MC: I love Nate Diaz. I like Francis Ngannou a lot. I could go on and on. I’m a humongous fan. I love UFC. I’ve been watching since I was like 4 or 5 years old. It was always on in my house. So me and my brother and my best friends, that’s all we talk about 24-7. So if I wasn’t playing football, I think I’d definitely be fighting.
HF: There’s a lot of guys from the NFL that now translate that to the cage. How do you think that transition works?
MC: NFL guys are larger than the average person. We’re athletic and big and know how to win. So when you throw a freak athlete in a ring, it definitely gets a little tricky. I think that’s something down the road, if everything doesn’t go exactly the way I want it to, it’d definitely be cool to get at least one fight under my belt just so I can say I did it.
HF: I know you’re a rapper. Do you have any rhymes to spill for us before I let you go?
MC: No. I do not. I’m not going to freestyle for you today. But I’m gonna tell you this, I’m going to Darren Waller’s house tonight and we’re gonna get in the studio. So it’s going to be — it’s going to be dope.
Heidi Fang can be reached at email@example.com. Download the Vegas Nation podcasts three times a week at www.LVRJ/podcasts.