GREEN BAY, Wis. — Molly Crosby was in the perfect spot to watch her husband’s final kick on Monday night, the one that gave the Green Bay Packers their improbable last-second win over the Detroit Lions.
Molly sat high above the south end zone at Lambeau Field.
She watched Mason’s 23-yard field goal sail through the uprights on the last play of the game. It was the only time the Packers led all night.
She clapped, she stood up and she smiled.
One of the first things Mason said after the game was: “It’ll be cool to see what her reaction was to it.”
All he’ll have to do is rewatch the Monday Night Football broadcast.
There was Molly, a little more than six weeks removed from surgery to take out a cancerous piece of her right lung, celebrating for everyone watching to see.
What a year it’s been already for the Crosbys.
Earlier in the summer, Molly had a cough she couldn’t shake. Tests showed something abnormal on her lung. They went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for additional tests and on the eve of training camp, she was diagnosed with a carcinoid endocrine tumor — lung cancer. In a 32-year-old, non-smoking, mother of five.
“We found out the day before we reported to [training camp],” Crosby said.
“He was like, they found something,” Bradley said. “We’re going to keep getting tests, but it was like ‘Hey this is going on, just give you a heads up.’ Thankfully they caught it fast, but he was all ball when he was at the facility and it shows.”
Crosby, 35, coming off a down year that included a horrific game in Detroit with five missed kicks (four field goals and an extra point) and in a preseason battle with Sam Ficken (now the Jets kicker), never let it impact his game. He made no mention of it publicly other than to teammates, coaches and close friends.
“I’ve trained a long time in compartmentalizing different situations,” Crosby said when talking about it with reporters recently for the first time. “Whenever I was home, I was fully home. The organization was unbelievable through training camp, just giving me time to be with Molly and be with the family and help where I could throughout the day and evening. I just tried to be fully in on both things.”
On Aug. 30, the day after the Packers’ preseason finale, Molly underwent surgery at Mayo, where doctors took out a cancerous spot in her lung. On the eve of the surgery, Crosby kicked in the preseason finale. A day after the surgery, he was told he’d be the Packers kicker for the 13th straight season.
In the days and weeks since, Molly received an excellent prognosis — the surgery removed less of her lung than was expected and the cancer had not spread.
Mason is also putting together another solid season. He’s 10-of-11 on field goals and perfect on 16 extra points. If anything was missing from a career that included a Super Bowl title, it may have been a Lambeau Leap.
Crosby checked that off his list, too, on Monday night.
With help from Bradley, who gave Crosby a much-needed boost to make it over the wall, he celebrated in the stands just below where Molly watched the game in a suite with friends.
“It’s not something we practice,” Crosby said of his leap. “We talk about it. Like last year, we had even talked about it, the Monday night [win over the 49ers on a last-second field goal], and I just kind of forget in the moment. So it was cool that it happened. And just to be able to finish off a game like that, that we battled back, that was just a such defining win for this team.”
In the jubilant moments in the locker room after the game, coach Matt LaFleur presented Crosby with the game ball.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 15, 2019
“That was pretty cool,” LaFleur said Tuesday. “What he went through with his wife, it was a pretty cool moment. Anytime you see somebody fight through some adversity and come out on the other side of it. Then you talk about his game last year at Detroit. It was just a really great moment for him.”
As Crosby retold the story of his night, he wore a stocking cap with a patch on the side that read “Packers vs. Cancer.”
“Just the fact that I’m wearing this Packers versus cancer hat and the NFL’s doing a Crucial Catch [campaign], yeah, I couldn’t ask for a better night for something like that to happen,” Crosby said. “This team’s special. I’m really happy that it came down to that.”
NFLPA seeks opt-out clauses for at-risk players, conditional stipends, source says
The NFL and NFLPA continue to negotiate terms for a return to work and players are requesting financial backing in case they decide to sit out the season.
Among the requests in the players’ recent proposal to the league, according to a source involved:
An opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive salary (but not bonuses) if one decides not to play.
An opt-out clause for players with at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play.
An opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain).
A $250,000 stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. That amount rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down.
The definition of “at-risk” is part of the discussion, and procedures for applying for medical opt-outs are not yet finalized.
The league’s June 7 memo listed the following as considerations for high-risk individuals:
Players also want, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, no salary in escrow for 2020 and no reduction in the 2021 salary cap despite projected revenue loss, which they’d prefer to spread over multiple years.
A source told Graziano there are no further conversations scheduled between the NFL and NFLPA on Wednesday, after the two sides talked each of the past two days.
Chris Jones’ deal with Chiefs the latest move toward a dynasty
The headline-snaring contract numbers handed out by the Kansas City Chiefs are these: $503 million over 12 years for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and as much as $85 million over four years for defensive tackle Chris Jones.
But the more important numbers for the Chiefs are these: 24 and 26. Those are the ages for Mahomes and Jones, respectively, when they put ink to paper — meaning both will play the primes of their careers in Kansas City.
Jones and Mahomes are just the latest important young players the Chiefs have invested in heavily. The Super Bowl champions have all of their core players now signed through at least 2021 while playing in the primes of their careers, setting up a possible dynasty run. Reciever Tyreek Hill is 26, defensive end Frank Clark 27, safety Tyrann Mathieu 28.
Throw in other good, young players such as receiver Mecole Hardman (22) and safety Juan Thornhill (25) and it’s reasonable to conclude the Chiefs will be on the top of their game not just again in 2020 but for years to come.
It’s why the Chiefs’ unofficial mantra this offseason has been “Run it back.”
— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) July 14, 2020
Many of the Chiefs’ other top players also have at least one more seasons in Kansas City. Players such as receiver Sammy Watkins (27), running back Damien Williams (28) and cornerbacks Charvarius Ward (24) and Bashaud Breeland (28) are in the final years of their deals. But the Chiefs have already prepared for their possible departures. Hardman could eventually replace Watkins. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could replace Williams. The Chiefs took two cornerbacks in the lower rounds of the 2020 NFL draft but they believe they got bargains in L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes.
As for Jones, the Chiefs had to keep him off the free-agent market by naming him as their franchise player, iron out a deal with Mahomes and beat the Wednesday deadline before reaching a long-term deal. But they eventually felt comfortable making him their third player behind Clark and Mahomes to get a contract with at least $60 million guaranteed. The Chiefs are the only team with three such contracts.
They gave Jones one of those contracts because they allowed six more points per game without an injured Jones last season than when he was in the lineup. They did it because opposing quarterbacks had a 32 QBR against the Chiefs when Jones was in the game and a 59 QBR when he wasn’t. They did it because he led them in sacks in each of the last two seasons.
But they paid Jones as they did mostly because he’s only 26 and he should continue as one of the NFL’s best defensive players for the life of this deal.
Dak Prescott extension with Cowboys unlikely before deadline, sources say
Barring unforeseen momentum over the next 24 hours, the Cowboys anticipate Prescott playing on a $31.4 million franchise tag.
Sources told ESPN’s Todd Archer on Monday that no talks were scheduled before the deadline between the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent, Todd France.
Prescott signed the exclusive franchise tag tender on June 22, which guaranteed he would not miss any of training camp — whenever it will begin. Without a long-term deal by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, Prescott will have to play the season on the tag and the sides can’t talk again about a long-term deal until January.
If the Cowboys were to put the tag on Prescott again in 2021, he would make $37.7 million.
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