ALAMEDA, Calif. -- "You're a f---ing rap guy, and you've never heard of George Clinton or Bootsy Collins?" -- Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock to rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby in training camp
With that, the "Hard Knocks" cameras captured the genesis of a social media friendship between Crosby, who went from high school rapper to blossoming NFL edge rusher (or did you miss his four-sack tour de force against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday?), and Collins, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and self-described "P-Master of the Universe, spreadin' hope like dope" from "The Land of Funkaholics."
Yeah, that Bootsy Collins. The guy who was once in James Brown's backup band and later with Clinton as a leading voice of funk in Parliament-Funkadelic.
One (Raider) nation under a groove?
And then some. It did not take Collins long to hear of Crosby's plight, from his not knowing the funk pioneer's place in the history of hip-hop (Crosby apologized to Collins on Twitter and said he would "get right" with the music) to Crosby's suffering a broken right hand in his first NFL exhibition game.
Hey @CrosbyMaxx - Sorry to hear about yr broken hand, get well soon. Now, Put yr hand on the Radio, let the Funk Vibes flow through, ain't to many thangs the Funk Can't do! Git Back N the Game my Mane! Tell @Raiders teammates I said, "Make My Funk the PFunk! Bootsy baby!!!🤩 pic.twitter.com/kQFWbmyDXN— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) August 22, 2019
It has continued to the point that Raiders fans wait in joyful hope after games to see how Collins will shout out the popular rookie. Especially after wins. And if Crosby plays a big role? To quote a certain song, Bootsy can't stay away.
Not when Crosby broke Greg Townsend's franchise rookie record of three sacks in a game, set in 1983, last weekend and had the most sacks in a game by a Raider since Khalil Mack had five in 2015.
Crosby was entertaining waves of reporters at his locker after the team beat the Bengals when the Tweet posted, so he had yet to see it. But he laughed and said the relationship "literally" started with Mayock's shaming of him on HBO.
"He just started hitting me up on Twitter," Crosby laughed. "So funny."
What you see is what you get. There's no sliding into DMs, no backdoor conversations. It's just public acknowledgment for all to see.
"He's super cool, and he's a big football fan," Crosby said. "It's cool having a legend ..."
Crosby's voice trailed off.
"He's a legend."
Crosby has his draft slot, No. 106, tattooed on his arm, and it was a Raiders legend to whom Crosby was compared when Oakland used a fourth-round pick on him in April. That would be Pro Football Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks.
Sure, it was unfair, and Raiders owner Mark Davis initially wondered about the competition he faced at Eastern Michigan.
Crosby himself said the NFL game was "going so fast," and he was "thinking too much, and the technique wasn't there" early in the season. Enter Raiders defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
"I tell Maxx all the time, 'You're probably the most successful person that's doing wrong stuff all the time.' But it works for him," Buckner said. "We've got a saying in our room: A Bentley is still a car whether you put rims on it or not. It's still an expensive car. A pass-rusher's good if I just run [by] you, rather than ... dipping in and spinning and all that. It's still a good pass rush."
Buckner said he also had to educate Crosby on old-school music.
"All them guys," Buckner said. "They come in, they sing all these songs, and I'm like, 'Well, who sung the original beat?' 'I don't know. That's Dr. Dre.' I said, 'That's Bootsy Collins ... yeah, it's called sampling.'"
Buckner would like Crosby and his other young charges to do some sampling of their own when it comes to generating pass-rush moves.
"You ask some of the guys who the best pass-rusher is, and they’re going to say Von Miller," Buckner said. "I'm like, 'What about Reggie White? What about Lawrence Taylor? What about the Mad Stork?' And they're like, 'Who is that?' So I pull them up [on video], and they're like, 'Oh.' So now it’s about having a better appreciation.
"I'm not a football coach. I teach life. It just so happens football encompasses."
Fellow rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell -- the No. 4 overall draft pick who is steeped in the history of the franchise -- said Crosby is "a true Raider," a throwback of sorts.
"That's my dog," Ferrell said. "He just brings a lot of energy. He's so much fun to play with. That's [why] I feel like me and him play off each other really well. We bring our own flavors, and they mesh really well."
Flavors? Ferrell, who is black, has taken to calling his pairing with Crosby, who is white, Salt and Pepper. So it was no surprise when the Oakland Coliseum D.J. hit some Salt-N-Pepa "Push It" after Crosby's sacks on Sunday -- even if Crosby ran out of sack dance ideas from racking up so many.
"Yeah," Crosby said of the musical selection. "I liked that. I don't even know how to describe it. When you get in that rhythm, you're feeling it, and the sacks start rolling in."
Crosby had Pro Football Focus' third-highest defensive player grade of the week (90.2) after Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (93.3) and Denver Broncos nose tackle Shelby Harris (92.1). These things happen when you tie for the second-most sacks in a game by a rookie in NFL history and when you have five tackles and a forced fumble.
"He's gotten stronger," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "He's gotten better, and he's got a great future here."
He is also one of six players in the league with at least three sacks (6.5), three forced fumbles (3) and three passes defensed (3) this season.
"He should be in the talks for defensive rookie of the year," said Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, a leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. "That is how I feel about it."
Collins also tagged Jacobs in a Tweet before the team faced the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders won that night, with Jacobs running it in for the winning TD and Crosby getting three quarterback hits and a half-sack.
Even before the rookie's breakout game against the Bengals, Collins, 68, was referring to Crosby, 22, as, well, family.
"I just try to work my hardest every single day, and finally, some sacks started coming to me," Crosby said. "It was an awesome day and an awesome win for us."
Some might even say it was Funkadelic.