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Adversity has brought out the best in Mason Crosby

Packers’ longtime kicker is on pace for a career year


GREEN BAY – Mason Crosby has kicked 426 field goals, played in 222 games and now enters the final leg of his 13th NFL season.

More importantly, he's a father of five, a husband to Molly and a brother to Rees. With family at the forefront of his mind dating back to training camp, the Packers' veteran kicker has been tested like never before in 2019.

A season that began with Molly having a cancerous tumor removed from her lung in August took another swerve last Friday when Crosby's sister-in-law, Brittany, passed away following a three-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Crosby traveled home to Texas to be with family after receiving the news Friday morning before rejoining the team in New York for Sunday's eventual 31-13 win over the Giants.

Nobody would've blamed Crosby if he chose to not play given everything he and his family have dealt with. Instead, he boarded a plane, made all five kicks he attempted and then flew back to Texas immediately after the game.

"Obviously, we weighed all the options," said Crosby on Wednesday. "I don't know if my brother or Brittany would have wanted (me not to play). How they live their lives, Brittany lived life to the fullest and she went on every adventure and did everything she could and lived every day on purpose. So I did my best to try and represent this team, and be a good team member, but be a good family member first."

As he did in training camp in the midst of Molly's diagnosis, Crosby bottled his emotions and came through again for his team in what's shaping up to be the best statistical year of his career. With four games left in the regular season, Crosby has made 14-of-15 field goals (93.3%) and all 33 of his extra points.

Against the Giants, Crosby made all four of his extra points and drilled a clutch 47-yard field goal in the second quarter despite snow layering the field turf inside MetLife Stadium.

Afterward, in recognition of Crosby's performance in the face of adversity, Head Coach Matt LaFleur awarded the 35-year-old kicker with the game ball in the postgame celebration.

A day later, LaFleur added more context to the story when he acknowledged the 47-yarder was actually a few yards out of the range they previously discussed with the deteriorating conditions.

Crosby, entering a one-score game at the time, felt he could get his solid footing since the snow actually had loosened the turf. There was no change in cleats. Just the same operation and process Crosby has trusted for the better part of two years with long snapper Hunter Bradley and holder JK Scott.

"Pregame we had a little bit longer distance going that direction because the field wasn't covered with snow and the wind wasn't swirling as much, so we had to adjust a little bit," Crosby said. "There's always a range. 'This is the yard line' I feel really solid with all the time and then just kind of situationally what I feel in that moment. It was a moment in the game with how things were looking, it was within a couple yards of where we felt good about."

Coincidentally, Crosby's strong year has coincided with kicking accuracy being down league-wide. Through 12 games, NFL kickers are a combined 589-of-736 on field-goal attempts (80.03%) compared to 778-of-928 (83.83%) in 2018.

Crosby would be looking at possibly two back-to-back years of converting on at least 90% of his field goals had it not been for a nightmare in Detroit last year, when he missed four field goals and an extra point.

Since that Week 6 game in 2018, Crosby has converted 33-of-36 field goals and 59 consecutive extra points.

"I feel like my ball-striking is some of the best it's been in my career," Crosby said. "I feel really good with how I'm approaching every week and how I'm balanced as I'm hitting the ball. Just the mind and the body being in sync there. You see it across the league all the time; guys get in grooves.

"There are ebbs and flows, but as I gain more experience all the time, I feel like I get more and more consistent and just continue to try to find ways to improve in that."

Crosby will practice with the team again on Thursday before flying back down to Texas for Brittany's funeral. He'll then fly back either Friday night or Saturday morning for Sunday's game against Washington at Lambeau Field.

On the eve of Wednesday's practice, LaFleur texted Crosby Tuesday night "to make sure I was doing all right and my family was taken care of." Crosby appreciated the gesture, along with everything the Packers organization has done over the past week to support him and his family.

"That means the world to me," Crosby said. "Whatever I need, they're there. I'm just trying to make the best decisions for my job and for my family. Obviously, they've just given me that leeway to go and meet with my brother and Brittany's family as much as possible."

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