During Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock’s tenure with the Raiders, there were plenty of eyebrow-raising decisions, from draft picks like Clelin Ferrell to acquisitions like Antonio Brown and the Khalil Mack trade to Chicago in 2018.
But amidst the chaos, there’s a tale of a potentially disastrous move narrowly avoided by Gruden during his second stint as head coach.
In a recent interview on the Barstool Sports “Pardon My Take” podcast, Raiders’ standout edge rusher Maxx Crosby revealed a tense moment with Gruden during practice. Crosby recounted how Gruden became infuriated when he repeatedly batted down balls in practice, a move the coach vehemently opposed.
Despite Gruden’s disapproval, Crosby defended his actions, arguing that practicing such skills was essential for game scenarios. However, during one training camp session, after swatting a ball down three times, Gruden erupted into a tirade filled with expletives and even threatened to cut Crosby then and there.
Thankfully, Crosby’s competitive spirit and dedication to improvement paid off. Gruden never followed through on his threat, and Crosby went on to prove his worth on the field. Since being drafted in 2019, Crosby has solidified his position as one of the league’s premier pass-rushers, tallying an impressive 52 sacks and nine forced fumbles in just 83 career games.
This anecdote serves as a reminder that sometimes, the smartest move a coach can make is to recognize and nurture the talent within their team, even if it means swallowing their pride or reevaluating their approach to practice. In this instance, Gruden’s decision not to act on his impulse to cut Crosby ultimately proved to be a wise one, allowing both player and team to flourish.
Featured image: Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports