Spotlight

Cliff Crosby

Trust Spotlights

Cliff Crosby

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Cliff Crosby is a Super Bowl winning former NFL defensive back who spent five years in the league. A passionate speaker and advocate in his community, Crosby shared his football journey to motivate former players to make good use of their earned benefits.

Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Cliff Crosby started his football career during his sophomore year of high school. Crosby admitted basketball was his favorite sport growing up, but with football season occurring in the fall, it gave him the opportunity to spend more time outside from home and learn his craft.

Being on the football field helped Crosby step into a positive environment. He saw the benefits of teamwork, being part of a unit, and most importantly, getting himself away from bad situations. Ultimately, football became a safe haven for Crosby.

After being recruited to the University of Maryland as a running back, Cliff later found himself on the defensive side of the huddle. Despite the struggles that came with learning a new position, Crosby honed in on defense during his last two years, overcoming injuries to win most improved player. His work ethic eventually presented the opportunity for him to make it to the NFL as a defensive back.

Coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, Crosby mentioned his transition to the NFL was tough. He competed against players who played defensive back their entire careers, but admitted the pressure helped him perform to the best of his ability.

Pressure actually makes me perform better. I'm just now learning that I don't do what I'm able to do without that pressure. The pressure of trying to make it to the NFL only having one season left made me perform… it developed me, and it seemed like… the odds being stacked against me is what helps me perform

After signing with the St. Louis Rams, Crosby reconnected with familiar faces from his college days and got to work. He knew he had to prove himself every day, so the advice he gives to current undrafted free agents is to have a strong work ethic because other teams are looking at you but feel like you belong with the organization that you’re currently with.

Crosby summarized his NFL experience as a “dream come true”, and “champion for life”. He realizes everyone who plays a sport dreams of competing at the highest level, so for him to achieve that was a dream fulfilled. He also revealed how winning the Super Bowl during his rookie season with the Rams was something of a storybook ending to his first year in the league.

As he contemplated his decision to step away from the NFL, Crosby admitted that he originally didn’t have anyone to turn to for answers. Thankfully, his wife at the time stepped in to help him navigate the landscape of retirement.

I didn't know what career I was going into. I had never made a resume. I didn't even know what job I wanted to look for. And so, my wife at the time was an HR person. She did my resume, she told me what jobs to apply for, she told me about the Maryland DC area about getting a government clearance... it was her that helped me transition, to be honest… In actuality, she was like my program manager

Crosby also took advantage of resources provided by the Professional Athletes Foundation during his career transition. He recognizes the challenges he faced during his transition makes it easier for him to approach other former players now and guide them towards the resources they need to succeed.

One thing that you should know about The Trust is that it's earned. This is yours and whether you use it or not, it's going to be here when you need it. You should come check it out and see what you could use because … there's something in these pillars that you can use… And so, for me that's the one thing I think players forget is that you earned it

Crosby also believes a transitioning player should contact the NFLPA as soon as they retire. Figuring out what opportunities are available for former players can get difficult, so he advises all former players to reach out as the first step of their transition away from the league.

It's a simple call and it'll take you so far because they're going to connect you. They're going to tell you about former player services. They're going to tell you about The Trust. They're going to inform you, and you’re just going to have all these options open to you, and that should be enough to just say, at least I know where to go when I do need something

Outside of being a Trust Captain, Crosby finds himself involved in many endeavors today. First and foremost, he’s a full-time father. He’s also a government contractor, motivational speaker and works alongside the MGM and National Harbor to promote events.

Pressure either makes diamonds or bust pipes. To Crosby, pressure is a motivating factor and the very reason he’s able to share his triumphant story today.

Pressure only makes me work harder, while pressure might buckle someone else and make them give up, it actually pushes me to do and become better, especially in moments where I'm trying to overcome or accomplish something that I’ve never done before

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