KENT, OHIO---On Saturday afternoon,
When Cribbs went back to Kent State University for his jersey retirement ceremony, he came “home” bearing a gift. After his accomplishments at Kent State were lauded on the Dix Stadium scoreboard and he was presented with a framed No. 9 jersey, Cribbs made a $100,000 contribution to the school’s Football Enhancement Fund.
The amount of the contribution was symbolic for Cribbs, as it was the net worth of his scholarship to Kent State.
“I’m trying to set a precedent for guys when they make it to the league to give things back, give back to your school so greater things can happen for that school; so we can essentially put our school on the map,” said Cribbs.
“The school has changed drastically since I’ve been here,” he continued. “The field, we used to have AstroTurf, so falling on that, it really hurt. They got a new field, scoreboard, everything is being fixed up. The jersey, the uniforms, the recognition at Kent State, that (I), Antonio Gates, guys in the NFL bring to this university is great. It’s only going up.”
Even before he made the donation to Kent State, current Golden Flashes coach Doug Martin acknowledged Cribbs’ commitment to making the team better.
“Josh Cribbs is one of my favorite players, more than anything because of the team player that he was,” Martin said during his Week Nine press conference. “I’ve never been around a better competitor. He’s just a great individual and a great football player. He means a lot to this university.
“There are several reasons why I think he means so much to the players and coaches here and the fans because he’s never forgotten where he came from,” Martin continued. “He’s here for football games every time he can come; he’s at basketball games; he’s given back financially to this university, came back and got his degree this past year, which was fantastic for (him) and his family. He really embraces and is really proud of this university and he’s very grateful for what this university did for him. You don’t get that a lot of times from guys that go on and have the stardom that he’s had, but he very much appreciates the role that people played in his life here, starting with Dean Pees.”
Before talking with the media, Cribbs was congratulated by Pees, the former Kent State head coach who now coaches the Baltimore Ravens linebackers, as well as former Golden Flashes lineman Jason Andrews.
“It just brings me back to college days and those guys looked out for me,” said Cribbs. “To see (Andrews) here, it just means so much to me, even beyond football, beyond the field, that these guys still consider me a dear friend. He’s living in Indiana with his wife and he came all the way over here for this day, him and Dean Pees.
“Coach was like a father to me here. He gave me the go-ahead actually to marry my wife,” he added. “My parents, they told coach, ‘You told us you were going to take care of our son and he’s about to get married. We want you to talk to him.’ I had a meeting with coach at 12 o’clock at night when I decided to get married and he said, ‘How do you feel about this girl? I know you’ve been talking about her.’ Not too many people know that. I had his blessing, so it was basically okay after that. He did grill me and made sure and we’ve been married eight years, so it was a good decision.”
Throughout the day, Cribbs was proudly wearing his blue letterman jacket with the gold “K” sewn onto the left side. As he went out to the 50-yard line at halftime, Cribbs was holding his 16-month old son Israel while walking alongside his wife, Maria, mother, Billye, father Harold and seven-year old daughter Kimorah.
“I got this probably my junior year,” Cribbs said of the jacket. “You’ve got to letter a couple years to get it and I got it about eight years ago, the same time I met my wife. I was able to use this to win her over a bit, but I wanted to break it out because I still wear my Kent State gear proudly to this day, in the NFL. I’ve got to let them know where I started.
“The fans today were the same fans I saw my whole four years at Kent,” he concluded. “Now, it’s so surreal to me that I’m at the next level and this fan-base is still here and it’s still strong. I hope for the best for the university because I feel like I’m indebted still to the university for how far I came.”