With this year’s selection to the Pro Bowl, kick returner
Originally named an alternate for the 2013 Pro Bowl, Cribbs received the roster spot when Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones had to pass on the invitation because the Ravens qualified for Super Bowl XLVII. Cribbs was named a first-alternate after returning 43 kickoffs for 1,178 yards, including a season-long 74-yarder that led to a field goal at the New York Giants on Oct. 7, 2012.
“It’s great,” Cribbs said of making the Pro Bowl. “I had mixed feelings because I wanted to make first team. It meant a lot for me to do that, but just to be here and to know that my skills have still been at such a high level, to be recommended for the Pro Bowl is just an honor.
“It gives you something to play for next year as well. This whole process of coming to the Pro Bowl is like a rededication to me, to want to have this feeling every year. I’m a little more seasoned in my career, and right now, it refocuses me on my overall goals and accomplishments as an individual player in the National Football League.”
Although he has participated in previous Pro Bowls, including the 2010 game, when he and fellow Kent State alums, Antonio Gates and James Harrison, all started for the AFC, Cribbs still takes enjoyment from the experience of playing among the NFL’s best.
“It’s surreal, just coming out and seeing how beautiful Hawaii is and hanging out with these star guys,” Cribbs said. “It’s real regular. Nobody’s a superstar to each other. It’s still surreal when you take a breath and you realize how hard your road was to get here. You start thinking, ‘Man, I’m so blessed just to be in the company of these guys.’ Some of the guys that have a chance to be out here, it’s the best of the best. Being out here, even if you’re an alternate like myself, just to be in the (game) is an honor. A lot of guys are soaking it up.”
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the players who is not just soaking up the atmosphere of the Pro Bowl and the sunshine on Hawaii’s beaches. In a team meeting, Manning reminded players that the Pro Bowl has come under scrutiny for its competition level in recent years.
Not wanting to play in his final Pro Bowl this season, Cribbs took Manning’s message to heart.
“Peyton Manning got up in front of the team and basically said, ‘Hey, the NFL is thinking about doing away with the Pro Bowl because guys don’t play serious,’” Cribbs said. “It kind of got to a lot of guys. We couldn’t imagine not playing for this as an individual. You want to have something to play for and the Pro Bowl is something that’s a goal for guys to shoot for every year. Not to have that, it won’t be right. Guys are going to play a good game and have a good competition, good battles out there on Sunday.”