Some athletes just don’t get enough credit, while others steal the spotlight for dirty deeds. Time spent dedicated to drama and wrongdoings among our “heros” and “leaders” and “celebrities” completely outweighs the time spent congratulating those truly genuine athletes who do great things.

Josh Cribbs is an example of such an athlete.

He would probably disagree, or at least be modest in his disagreement, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. He would never claim to be a hero or a king. Even though I’m sure quite a few fans in Cleveland would argue to the contrary.

Not only is Josh Cribbs an excellent athlete for the Cleveland Browns organization (14 receptions, 185 yards, 1 TD and a 65 yard longest punt return this season thus far), he’s a stand-up man.

Last season when he sought to negotiate his contract, he, unlike some athletes from Cleveland, begged to stay. He was not being offered anything close to what he deserved, considering his weekly contributions to both sides of the ball, and waited for the best offer from the front office. He Tweeted constantly about how he wanted to stay, how he loved Cleveland and his fans, and how he knew he deserved a better contract.

Absolutely no fan disagreed with him. “PAY THE MAN” was a hashtag statement for weeks during his contract negotiation.

Cribbs is also unlike a few key (former) Cleveland athletes in that he’s supporting the area’s teams wherever he goes. I have yet to see an interview where he’s not wearing either Kent State University attire, an Indians cap, a Cavaliers cap or some type of Browns outerwear.

Last weekend at Kent State‘s home game against Ball State, Cribbs donated back the $100,000 he (estimated) was granted as a scholarship for his athletics and academics. KSU retired his jersey and dedicated the game to him. Josh Cribbs Day was a huge success: approximately 15,165 tickets were sold and Cribbs donated a good sum of money to the Rootstown, Ohio youth football league.

Josh Cribbs hosts a benefit Halloween party in Cleveland

Josh Cribbs hosts a benefit Halloween party in Cleveland

The night before Josh Cribbs Day, Cribbs held a benefit Halloween party at Fortress Nightclub in Cleveland where a portion of the proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here’s the flyer he handed out.

In the blog WaitingForNextYear, post writer Scott gives a great summation of the event held for Cribbs on Saturday at Dix Stadium in Kent.

At the event, Cribbs happily spoke to many news outlets and encouraged others in the NFL to give back to schools.

According to the post by Scott, Cribbs is only the fourth player to have his jersey retired at KSU.  He  joins Jim Corrigal, Eric Wilkerson and nine-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jack Lambert. Scott said that though hailing from the Washington D.C. area, Cribbs’ alma mater provides Cleveland fans with a link to consider him “one of us.”

Scott believes, and I agree, that fortunately, the Pro Bowler has returned the favor by embracing Cleveland as “home.”

Recently in an interview with Jim Rome, Cribbs expressed the need for a new leader in Cleveland after LeBron’s departure. He stated that he does think Cleveland fans are looking for someone to fill that void.  However, he did urge fans not to select him, or pick that one guy. “The city of Cleveland is more than just one person.  And it’s more than just one team… Wins heal everything and if we could just win something they’ll love us forever.”

Now that’s a team player, a good athlete and a good man. Cribbs is a well-spoken individual who, to me, is real. He’s not out to win people over, impress or anything like that. He doesn’t have to try. He’s just a genuinely good person. Professors here at Kent State would back this up in a second, as well.

The NFL and world of sports in general needs more athletes like Josh Cribbs.

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