They say that coaching is a fraternity. A lot of the men in the football coaching profession often travel in the same circles, but for Doug Marrone and Danny Crossman they shared the rarity of seeing their playing careers end and coaching careers begin together.
Marrone and Crossman were still trying to carve out professional careers in football in 1991. Marrone a right tackle and Crossman a safety both found themselves on the roster of the London Monarchs of the World League that season in hopes of parlaying it into one last crack at the NFL.
The Monarchs were successful in the World League’s inaugural season winning the World Bowl that year, a 23-0 shutout of the Barcelona Dragons. Crossman, London’s team captain, was named the game’s MVP with three interceptions in the game.
In 1992, Crossman was in his final season in the World League, but Marrone chose to hang up his cleats to begin his coaching career at SUNY Cortland as a tight ends coach. A year later their paths would cross again as they both landed coaching jobs at the Coast Guard Academy. Marrone coached the offensive line, while Crossman coached defensive backs for the 1993 season.
Their team went just 4-5 that season, and a year later Marrone moved on to coach at Northeastern, but it was clear with Marrone’s hiring of Crossman as his special teams coach Monday that the two men established a bond as assistants and former teammates.
“The relationships that you build as players are obviously very important and special,” said Marrone. “You go through a lot of adversity in this game, so we remained close. My second job was at the Coast Guard Academy, which was Danny’s first. Really we have come from the bottom up through this industry. We have stayed close and we have come to this point where we can work together again.”
Six years after their ’93 campaign at the Coast Guard, the two would find themselves coaching on the same staff a second time at Georgia Tech. Again Marrone was coaching the offensive line, while Crossman was manning special teams duties and coaching defensive ends. That Yellow Jackets team that season went 8-4 and made a Gator Bowl appearance.
“Doug and I have known each other for the last 25 years or so,” said Crossman. “After playing together, we had the opportunity to coach together twice before in college football and compete against each other in the NFL. We have maintained a very close relationship over the years.”
The two faced one another as assistants in the NFC South from 2006-2008 with Marrone an offensive coordinator in New Orleans and Crossman a special teams coordinator with Carolina.
Buffalo will be their third stop together and both intend for it to last considerably longer than the one-year stops they enjoyed on coaching staffs in their previous two stints together.
For now, Marrone is just glad he got the coach he wanted for his special teams unit.
“The thing I am excited about for what Danny will bring to our special teams is a system that plays to our players’ strengths-something that we have obviously talked about,” said Marrone. “For our players, we are going to be able to evaluate what their strengths are and be able to put them in the best position possible for us to win.”