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Joshua Cribbs, Webster Slaughter chosen as Browns Legends

Joshua Cribbs and Webster Slaughter will add one more highlight to their expansive reels.

The pair of playmakers will be inducted as Browns Legends on Sept. 27 during the game against Washington at FirstEnergy Stadium, the team announced Thursday.

Cribbs, who played quarterback at Kent State, was an undrafted free agent in 2005 but became an elite special teamer. He was a three-time Pro Bowler in eight seasons with the Browns, owns 11 team records and is tied for first in NFL history with eight kickoff return touchdowns.

“When I look at my time here in Cleveland and everything I’ve been able to bring to the team — being undrafted and my value to the team and what it meant not just to the team but to the city — it was kind of confirmation that they think that Cribbs guy, he did a job well done, so much so he’s a legend to us,” Cribbs said in the news release. “That means everything to me.”

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Slaughter, a receiver, was a second-round pick in 1986 and immediately helped the Browns go to three AFC championship games in his first four seasons. His big plays on the receiving end of passes from Bernie Kosar remain favorites of fans.

“It was amazing,” Slaughter said. “At the time of my life, that was the most exciting thing I’d ever been a part of. The way the team came together, the camaraderie between all the players and how the city jumped behind the team and drove us, really, to those championship games, it was one of the most special times of my life.”

Browns wide receiver Webster Slaughter beats Buffalo Bills safety Mark Kelso on a 44-yard touchdown reception in a 34-30 AFC playoff win Jan. 8, 1990, in Cleveland.
AP FILE

Cribbs had three special teams touchdowns in 2007 to earn his first Pro Bowl trip and three kickoff return touchdowns in 2009. He finished his Cleveland career with 11 return touchdowns, 10,015 kickoff return yards and 2,154 punt return yards. He played two more seasons elsewhere and ranks third in NFL history with 13,488 return yards, third with 11,113 kickoff return yards and fifth with 11 return touchdowns.

He was also a force in kick coverage, leading the team in tackles four times and totaling 125 with the Browns. His contributions continued on offense, as he had 1,175 receiving yards, 808 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver and wildcat quarterback.

“I just tried to embody everything Browns fans stand for,” Cribbs said. “Cleveland is not as big as New York City or LA. We’re just a hard-working, football town, blue-collar to the core. I embodied what they stood for, having to start from nothing, undrafted, having to fight my way onto the team, having to be in a position lower on the team … They lived through me and every game and every time I would encounter a fan, they would tell a story of how bad they wanted us to win or a story of when they were at the game in the stands and they wanted me to win so bad.

“I hear all these stories and I used to take it to the field knowing the fans are rooting for me. I would take all that energy and it would boost me during the game.”

Slaughter played six seasons with the Browns. He caught six passes for 86 yards in the double-overtime playoff win over the Jets as a rookie and caught a career-high seven touchdowns in 1987.

His best year came in 1989, as he made the first of two Pro Bowls. He caught 65 passes for 1,236 yards and six touchdowns, and his 97-yard touchdown catch was the longest, at the time, in franchise history and in the history of “Monday Night Football.” He had two touchdowns in a playoff win over the Bills.

He finished his Cleveland career with 305 catches for 4,834 yards and 27 touchdowns, then played five more seasons in the league, including making the Pro Bowl in 1993 with the Houston Oilers.

“I will never forget my six years in Cleveland,” Slaughter said. “I played in other places but none of those places ever gave me the feeling that I had when I played for the Cleveland Browns. It was a different feeling and totally special.

“If I had to pick another team to play for, I would pick the Cleveland Browns. I couldn’t pick another team. I had so much fun that I didn’t know I was going to have. I met so many friends I didn’t know I would meet. It was the most exciting set of fans to play for.”

The Browns began the Legends program in 2001 with the induction of the team’s Pro Football Hall of Famers. Inductees must have played for the Browns for five years, been a major contributor and been retired for five years.

“It is always special to spend time with and celebrate Browns alumni, and we are incredibly proud to recognize Webster Slaughter and Josh Cribbs — two of our team’s greats that are also exceptional men — as the newest Browns Legends members,” owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. “We deeply appreciate everything they, along with all of our alumni, have done for the Browns on the field and how they continue to contribute to our team and our community in meaningful ways.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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