Joshua Cribbs wants to get back into football.
And help the Browns get back on track.
Coach Hue Jackson has given him the opportunity.
Cribbs, a former All-Pro special teamer for the Browns, joined the coaching staff as a special teams intern about a month ago, the team announced Thursday. He’s working with new coordinator Amos Jones and assistant Sam Shade.
“I have this burning desire to be around football, to get back in the game,” Cribbs said in the release announcing the move. “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 interviewed for the assistant job before it went to Shade, a former player who’s been a high school and college coach for 13 years. Jackson then offered Cribbs the internship.
“We had great dialogue and conversations and felt like it was best to do everything I could to provide him an opportunity to understand what coaching was, from the bottom up,” Jackson said. “I wanted to do everything I could to put him in position where he could be successful. He was very open to it and we made a decision of, ‘Let’s start on the ground floor and work our way up.’”
Cribbs was undrafted in 2005 and signed with the Browns. The Kent State quarterback quickly converted to a special teams standout and wide receiver. He returned kickoffs and punts and covered kicks, becoming a three-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in 2009.
He stayed in Northeast Ohio after his career with the Browns ended after 2012, his last regular-season NFL action was in 2014 with the Colts and he officially retired last season. He’s getting used to the grind of being on an NFL coaching staff.
“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.’
“That’s the process I’m in now. I know I want this. I’m proving myself again. This is something I want to do and will exceed, just like I did as a player. I’m going to use that same mentality as a coach.”
Cribbs owns 11 Browns return records and his eight kickoff return touchdowns are tied for the most in NFL history.
“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,” Jackson said. “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.”