CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh Cribbs has pulled off another stunning return.
A three-time Pro Bowler during eight seasons returning kicks for the Browns, Cribbs is joining Cleveland’s coaching staff as a special teams intern.
Cribbs was a threat to score any time he lined up deep for a kickoff or punt, and he’ll now give some of his expertise to young, impressionable Cleveland players.
“I’ve earned their respect already as a player. Now I get to earn their respect as a coach,” Cribbs said. “I pour into them all the knowledge I have to make them successful and make them do the things I did. I have this burning desire to be around football, to get back in the game. This is the closest way I can be around football, to still make an impact in the NFL. What better team for me to make an impact than the Cleveland Browns?”
Cribbs accepted the internship about a month ago from coach Hue Jackson. He’s working under new Browns special teams coordinator Amos Jones, who is showing him the coaching ropes.
He has quickly learned that coaching is as demanding as playing.
“It’s a lot of time involved, a lot of hours and not everyone is cut out for it,” Cribbs said. “Not that they can’t coach, but everybody is not cut out for the hours and the time it takes to put into coaching. That was one of the main important things in my discussion with Hue. He said, ‘Hey, look down in three months and you figure it’s not for you, no hard feelings, we still love you. Coaching’s not for everybody.”
An undrafted quarterback out of Kent State, Cribbs became one of the NFL’s most dynamic and dangerous returners. He also played one season each for the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. Cribbs last played in 2014 and had considered a comeback before officially retiring last year.
Cribbs shares the league record with eight kickoff return touchdowns.
He had hoped to land an assistant’s job on Jackson’s staff, but when that opening was filled, he accepted the internship — starting from the bottom, just as he did as a player.
“I wanted to do everything I could to put him in position where he could be successful,” said Jackson, who is 1-31 in two seasons with the Browns. “He was very open to it and we made a decision of, ‘Let’s start on the ground floor and work our way up.’ His reputation precedes itself. He was one of the best return guys in pro football. Plus he’s a Cleveland Brown. He’s one of our own. He told me over a phone call that he had a tremendous passion to get the organization back to winning and that means something to me.
“We’ve had several other (former players) reach out, but this ended up being the right fit at the right time for us.”