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NFL Made Raiders’ Maxx Crosby Change Sobriety-Themed Facemask

In this week’s Monday Morning Uni Watch report, I noted that Raiders defensive lineman Maxx Crosby had swapped out his unusual facemask design, which he’d been wearing for the first five weeks of the season, for a more conventional design.

Crosby, as it turns out, has a podcast, and he addressed the mask switcheroo on this week’s episode. You can listen to the relevant segment here, or just read this transcript:

Podcast co-host Brogan Roback: The facemask was different [on Sunday]. Normally you’ve got that triangle on your facemask. What is up with that? You came out with a different helmet today. Can you just speak on what was up with that?

Maxx Crosby: You know, being real honest, I love the National Football League, everything we represent. But Roger Goodell, we gotta get on a call. We gotta get face to face, I want talk to you. So, they made me take my facemask off. I played the first five weeks, not one word. We play on Monday night, my face on the screen a lot — there’s too much going on, I guess, for Roger, and he sent in a nice email saying it has to go.

I’m like, Rog, what are we doing? I’m out here representing sobriety to the fullest. I got a tattoo on my neck, my hands, everywhere. So I put it on my facemask, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to all the people watching — they understand what’s going on. And, you know, it just rubbed me the wrong way. But we’re gonna have our conversation.

Roback: What does the triangle mean to you? Because everyone sees it all over you. If you’re open to telling everyone that, what does the triangle mean specifically to you?

Crosby: The triangle to me represents sobriety. It’s everything. It’s why I’m here. And why I’m doing this podcast with you. It’s why I got a beautiful daughter and family. A great fucking circle of people. It’s literally everything. If I didn’t make that decision to clean my life up and get in AA and the 12 steps, I wouldn’t be here. So that’s literally what it comes down to. It represents everything that I got going on.

And so for me, I put it all over my body. I see it every day. I got it on my hand, and I got the date I got sober on my hand as well. So the first thing I see every single day when I grab something, I see the triangle at all times. So yeah, it means a lot to me. So that’s why I put it on my facemask. So yeah, I was upset about it, but we’re gonna work on it, Roger, and we’re gonna figure that out. We need that triangle back.


Interesting. Two follow-ups on this: First, just to expand on what Crosby said, the triangle in AA represents recovery, unity, and service.

And second, Crosby didn’t explain why the league had him change the facemask. But when I mentioned the mask change on Monday, reader Craig Hoekstra offered this: “I’m wondering if Maxx Crosby changing his face mask has anything to do with [Chargers quarterback] Justin Herbert hurting his finger [on Oct. 1]. It appeared to me Justin got his finger stuck in the facemask.”

This AP report says Herbert’s injury was indeed caused by his finger getting stuck in Crosby’s mask. That would seem to be a legit reason for making Crosby change his cage, regardless of the good-cause messaging. Maybe he can come up with a triangle-based design that’s safe for his opponents.

(My thanks to Rudy Guitierrez for bringing the podcast segment to my attention.)

Comments (16)

    I’m guessing his finger got stuck between the double bars. Seems like Vicis could easily just remove all the double bars and keep the same shape, which would eliminate the issue.

    I might not like the Raiders (Broncos fan), but I do like Maxx Crosby. I always liked his facemask, and now I like it more now that I understand his story!

    Maybe the NFL should allow him to wear a triangle on his front or back bumper of the helmet instead of the face mask. Or on the shades if he chooses to wear them at away games in open air stadiums.

    Far too many uses of “me” and “I” in his statement.
    While safety and sobriety are both important, this seems more self-serving than public-service.

    I’d argue that a prominent professional athlete being open about his addiction struggles, his willingness to seek help and treatment, and ongoing efforts to remain sober is pretty good public service messaging. You never know who Maxx’s story will inspire to make a positive change.

    Also, the NFL should try to discuss solutions for the facemask with Maxx, instead of just coldly banning it.

    So this “rule” on facemasks goes back to 2013 when “customized facemasks” were banned. I recall this as being the “Justin Tuck” rule.



    I thought someone hurt their finger on Tuck’s mask too, but can’t find anything referencing it now.

    On the one hand, the acute angles the triangles create with the horizonal bars do look like potentially painful finger-catching traps. A facemask really shouldn’t have any bar angles much more acute than 80 degrees.

    On the other hand, what is anyone doing putting their fingers into an opponent’s facemask?

    Sometimes it can’t be helped. QB following through on a throw, hand into a pass rusher’s face mask.

    1. Stiff arms
    2. QB following through on a throw
    3. Accidents
    4. It’s a violent collision sport being played by unusually large men at frighteningly high speed and things haopen

    Mr. Goodell shame on you acting without gettin the full story. if the triangle on his facemask helps him stay sober then it should be allowed and when someone hurts themselves on a facemask itshould have consequenceslike being called for what it is, a foul. when did it become ok to grab a facemask of an opponent even if they could claim accident? I happen to be an addiction and behavioral health nurse with 35 years experience. I worked at the menninger clinic when we had a contract with the nfl an I saw somethings that I wish I hadn,experienced. ther were times the nfl did not support players equally or fully ike this situation. I would guess maxx does not know about his possible part in justin’s injury. part of maxx’s program would be to make ammends for harm to others, usually due directly to drinking but being sober I beleavehewould not want to bethe one to cause harm you both ought to get together and work this out i’m sure there could be a design that would be acceptable to you both. trust me Mr. Goodell, you don’ want Maxx Crosby to relapse. Do you know a person can die from alcohol detox, whereas they don’ from heroin or opiates withdrawal. alcohol addiction is a nasty thing to get over and anyone who is working a strong program needs support not a fight. talk it out and be open to compromises on both sides.

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