In the third quarter, Justin Tucker gave Baltimore a three-point advantage with a 40-yard field goal. During the game, ESPN announcers Steve Levy and Louis Riddick shone a spotlight on Las Vegas defensive end Maxx Crosby, who celebrated 18 months of sobriety over the weekend. He checked into a rehab facility last March, just a day before the world as we knew it shut down. “Alcoholism runs in my family and I’m an alcoholic,” he told ESPN. ”So, for me, I knew it was something that was always a crutch. I always knew I had a problem. I knew I couldn’t just drink like everybody else.”
Crosby checked into rehab on March 11, 2020 — a date he now has tattooed on his hand.
After spending a month in rehab, Crosby went to a sober living facility in Venice Beach. He told ESPN: “I was just trying to get my s–t together and just trying to stay above water. I know if I can make it through that s–t and get sober, I can do anything. It was special and I met some awesome people along the way.” Levy and Riddick praised Crosby for his candor in speaking out about his addiction. “We need to tell more of these stories,” said one of them during tonight’s broadcast.
Crosby now attends weekly recovery meetings via Zoom. According to Levy and Riddick, that recovery group involves just eight people — and one of them is Crosby’s teammate, Raiders tight end Darren Waller. Crosby said he was inspired to get treatment after seeing Waller’s sobriety — which was a long time coming.
Waller (the great-grandson of legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller) had struggled with addiction since he was a teenager. In a candid interview with Fox Sports, Waller recalled how his drug use began in high school. “I’m walkin’ in the hallway; if I see you with a cast on, a sling on, be like, ‘Hey, I’ll give you some money [for pain pills]”’, he said. “Frat houses on campus during college. I’ll go to the hood. I’ll go anywhere to get it, ’cause what I want is what I need. So I’ll do anything to get it.” Drug use was extensive and widespread. “Percocet was always No. 1, like painkillers. Smoke weed. Xanax. Coke. Adderall. Codeine syrup. You name it,” he told Fox Sports.
Waller got suspended four games in 2016 and then the entire 2017 season because of drug use. He overdosed in his Jeep on August 11, 2017. He later realized that he had ingested a batch of opioids laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that could’ve killed him. That prompted him to get help. Waller checked in to McLean Borden Cottage in Camden, Maine, in 2017. In 2018, he was signed by the Raiders Now he’s considered one of the best tight ends in the league — his 107 receptions last season were the most among tight ends.
The ESPN/ABC crew also took note of Carl Nassib, who made history Monday night as the first openly gay player in a regular-season NFL game. Nassib drew national attention in June when he came out in an Instagram video. Yet he had scarcely been heard from since, apart from talking to reporters in August during training camp. But Nassib would soon make his presence felt in a very big way.