Sat, 19 Jun 2021

Where Are They Now: Ron Crosby

New York Jets
07 May 2021, 18:56 GMT+10

Catch Up with the Linebacker from Penn State Jim Gehman

A season-ending injury before actually playing a season, and the determination he demonstrated afterward, ultimately lead Ron Crosby to the Jets in 1979.

A Penn State linebacker who was chosen in the fourth round of the 1977 NFL Draft by Detroit, Crosby tore knee ligaments and a hamstring seemingly before breaking in his chin strap.

"The first couple years was kind of a rocky road for me," Crosby said. "I was on Injured Reserve for my rookie year and then got released in (the following training) camp. I then went to a couple of teams to try out and ended up getting signed during the (1978) season with the Saints, and played there for a year. I got released from New Orleans and then picked up by the Jets."

With his third team in three seasons in 1979, Crosby not only rehabbed his knee, but to play and stay in the league, he also had to compete against veteran players as well as draft picks.

"You sort of feel whether things are going to work out because when you bounce around like that, you sort of... I don't know how to explain it," Crosby said. "You've got to open some eyes up for them to really take a chance on you. Plus, once you become a free agent and move around the league a few years, you're always fighting their draft picks because that's a commitment they made in picking that talent."

In 1980, his second season in New York, Crosby went from just hoping to be on the field to becoming a starter.

"It meant a lot to me because all that hard work and those injuries. I always believed I could play in the NFL. Just between injuries and timing, it didn't work out," Crosby said. "So it was very, very important to me personally, just to be able to prove that I could play at that level. We had Lance Mehl, Greg Buttle, and myself, three Penn State linebackers. In the preseason, you've got a good feel when the regular season comes, that you're going to be starting."

With two interceptions that year, his first one off of Houston's Ken Stabler, Crosby proved to have good hands to go along with a fiery style. Blazing speed with the football following the pick? Umm...

"(Oilers wide receiver) Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson tipped it up and I was right there ready to tackle him and the ball just sort of bounced right in my hands," Crosby said. "What I remember more than anything, and I'm not trying to just be humble, I wasn't what you'd call speedy. When I caught the ball, I remember running and I got tackled at the 1-yard line. I intercepted it on the 43 and ran 42 yards. And who I got tackled by was Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson. When you're running, your arms move back and forth, and well, when the ball came back, he was actually planning to hit the ball out of my hands instead of tackling me.

"You talk about the linebackers giving a razzing in the film (review meeting). They said, 'Why didn't he just run backwards and try to knock the ball out?' So then I finally fell and couldn't make it in, which I took a razzing on that, too.

"I was not a finesse guy. I was, if anything, very aggressive and was known for being a tough, hard-hitting linebacker. And that's how I made my name. Galloping down the field for 40 yards isn't what I did best."

With the Jets for five seasons, 1979-83, Crosby, who helped New York reach the 1982 AFC Championship Game against Miami, started in 20 of 69 games, and was able to back up every linebacker spot and excel on special teams when he didn't start.

What makes him most proud of his career?

"Staying power. I have to say that my belief in myself," Crosby said. "The NFL's tough. Once you get hurt and bouncing around the league, it's not easy to come back and make a team. So I think the fact that I was able to get nine years in - seven in the NFL and two in the USFL (with the Pittsburgh Maulers and Baltimore Stars) - despite the injuries and some of the other situations where you come in later in the year. So, yeah, I think my staying power would be the best way to say what I'm most proud of."

Married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, the Crosbys make their home in Venetia, PA. They have two adult children: Jason, who played defensive end at Penn State; and Lindsey. They also have four grandchildren.

Following football, Crosby, who is now retired, enjoyed a 36-year career in sales.

"I worked for a company called, if you watched the Olympics or any downhill skiing or luge, you've probably seen a lot of UVEX. They made lens for ski goggles and luge helmets. I worked for them a number of years," Crosby said.

"And then I was V.P. of sales for a company that was a wholesaler in the safety industry, United American Sales out of Wilmington, Ohio. We sold everything from head to toe. Hard hats, goggles, respirators, protective clothing, shoes. We had rep groups and probably 30 to 40 sales guys that I was responsible for. I covered the whole U.S., so I was traveling all the time. That was a big part of my job."

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