November 15, 2009
In a dismal year for the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs has proved to be one of the only bright spots. Last month he showed he's equally good off the field.
The Pro Bowler traveled to Berea, Ohio, to walk onto the field on senior night with the son of one of his former college coaches. Michael Drake, a senior receiver at Stow High School, lost his father, Mike, in 2005 to lymphoma. He had assumed he'd be accompanied by his mother and sister for senior night introductions and was stunned when he saw Cribbs arrive minutes before the game.
''I looked, then looked away, then said, 'Why are you here?''' Michael recalled. ''I was shocked.''
A receiver, cornerback and holder for extra points, Michael said Cribbs offered advice before his final game.
''He said, 'Play your heart out. This is it. Give it your all. Don't ever stop on any play. Keep pushing,''' Michael said. ''I almost felt worried. I didn't want to look bad for him.''
Michael's late father recruited Cribbs to play at Kent State and served as a father figure to the D.C. native during his time at Kent. Mike Drake was the offensive coordinator for the Golden Flashes during Cribbs' freshman and sophomore seasons. Cribbs played quarterback in college and credits Drake for helping him drive home the fundamentals that he still uses today. So, when the idea of returning for senior night was pitched to Cribbs this summer, he didn't hesitate.
It's a small gesture, but it says a lot about the character of Cribbs. He apparently didn't feel the need to talk about it publicly; this happened Oct. 30 and, as far as I can tell, yesterday's report in the Akron Beacon Journal is the first it's been mentioned. Similarly, Drake's mother is quoted in the piece as saying that Cribbs took great pains to underplay his presence at the game for fear of taking away the spotlight from Michael and the other seniors. This shows a humility that other professional football players could sometimes stand to emulate.
Cribbs is back on the field Monday night when the Browns host the Baltimore Ravens.
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