Part of an NFL kicker’s job requires the ability to compartmentalize each kick within every game. To not let the emotions of one kick bleed over and impact another. In 2019, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was tasked with balancing even more in his contract year: his wife, Molly, was diagnosed with lung cancer before the start of training camp.
Molly had surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on the Friday before the Packers' final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. In early March 2020, Molly returned for a checkup.
Her doctors found no signs of cancer.
“We are, as of right now, you know how it goes, we are in the clear,” Mason Crosby said. “We will continue to monitor and go back for regular appointments. But they feel very confident with the prognosis at this moment.”
Molly’s news comes in advance of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s Stronger Together Virtual Gala on Wednesday, which replaces what would have been the foundation’s 50th annual Golf Classic that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Crosbys have been involved with the charity golf outing since Mason was a rookie in Green Bay. Over time, the organization’s mission to prevent cancer, care for those battling the disease and find a cure became more precious to their family.
“With personal experiences with cancer and seeing how it affects lives and the people that it affects in our country and everywhere, it dove into my heart,” Crosby said. “(Molly and I) have a lot of passion about trying to help those that are affected by it.”
While Molly began her battle against cancer in July, Mason’s sister-in-law Brittany Crosby was experiencing her own fight against ovarian cancer that spanned three years. Brittany, 30, passed away Nov. 29, 2019, two days before the Packers’ game against the New York Giants. Mason flew home to be with his family in Texas before flying back Saturday night to return to the team.
Molly’s and Brittany’s combats with cancer put Mason’s career into perspective, especially during the final season in his four-year deal.
“The job became easy,” Crosby said. “It was a way to go and to somewhat have a little bit of a distraction from some of the heavier things going on in our personal lives. … To be able to go into work and see my teammates and know that I have the support of our awesome organization, I could just go out there and be free and do my job.”
Crosby balanced his personal life and his professional one, supporting his wife while finishing one of the best seasons of his career. He connected on 22 of 24 field-goal attempts (91.7%), which placed him in the top five in the NFL. Crosby also set a career-high touchback percentage of 62.0%.
The Packers didn’t take long to make Crosby a continued part of their future. On Feb 24, 2020, the team officially announced they re-signed their veteran kicker to a three-year deal.
“Our negotiations ramped up faster than I definitely anticipated,” Crosby said. “I thought we'd probably get a little closer to free agency, but it was their desire to get something done and kind of thinking about, everything, the time we've spent here the last 13 years. The support that they gave us through that. There's just so many personal and professional things that just feel right here.”
Crosby said he is grateful to return to the Packers, especially during the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down team facilities and made it complicated for free agents in new cities to get physicals done. If he plays out his entire contract, he will have spent 16 seasons in Green Bay.
Beyond that, Crosby isn’t ready to put a number on how many years he has left in the league.
“I still love the game,” Crosby said. “Love every aspect of it. Love the challenge. Love the energy and the excitement of a win. The drive and the desire that even sometimes losing brings of getting back to work and trying to get a win that next week. All those things still light a fire in me. As long as those things are still going, I'm gonna keep pushing to try to do this at a high level.”
The public can bid on a variety of items and experiences as part of the Stronger Together silent auction. This includes an opportunity to participate in a virtual chat called Cheers for Charity with Crosby.
For more information on the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s Stronger Together Virtual Gala on May 13 at 7 p.m. CST, visit lombardifoundation.org.