Joe Cribbs (1958- ) was an All-American running back at Auburn University from 1976 to 1979. Auburn's fourth-leading rusher of all time, he went on to a successful career in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers.
Joe Stanier Cribbs was born on January 5, 1958, in Sulligent in Lamar County. His father was absent from his childhood, and he credits his mother, grandmother, and several aunts with raising him. Additionally,
Cribbs had two brothers who were nine and 11 years older than him who served as surrogate fathers and got him involved in
organized sports. Cribbs found success in the sport of football. Parade magazine twice named Cribbs to its high school All-American list while he was at Sulligent.
Cribbs continued to star as a running back at the collegiate level for the Auburn Tigers. Playing from 1976 to 1979, he gained 3,368 rushing yards and 4,561 all-purpose yards and scored 34 touchdowns. He holds a school record for most consecutive games with 100 yards rushing, setting seven of them in the 1978 season. Other notable records that Cribbs holds at Auburn are second in career rushing attempts (657), third in rushing touchdowns (34), and fourth in total rushing yardage (3,368 yards). Notably, the Auburn team never played in a bowl game during Cribbs' time there.
Cribbs chose to leave college early to enter the 1980 National Football League (NFL) draft and was selected in the second round by the Buffalo Bills. In his rookie season, Cribbs played in all 16 games, rushing for 1,185 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was named the American Football Conference Rookie of the Year and was the only rookie to start in the Pro Bowl that year. Cribbs led the Bills in rushing from 1980 to 1983 and also led them in receiving in 1983. Cribbs played for the Bills until a contract dispute arose in the spring of 1984, at which point he left the Bills to play for the Birmingham Stallions of the now-defunct United States Football League (USFL). Cribbs led the USFL in rushing in 1984 with 1,467 yards. Playing two seasons for the Stallions, Cribbs accrued 2,514 rushing yards, 787 receiving yards, and 21 touchdowns.
In 1985, the Buffalo Bills bought out Cribbs's contract with the Stallions, and he returned to the NFL. In 1986, the Bills traded Cribbs to the San Francisco 49ers, where he played for two seasons. Cribbs spent his final year in the NFL in 1988, playing one game for the Indianapolis Colts and 12 games for the Miami Dolphins. In eight NFL seasons, Cribbs played in 102 games, rushed for 5,356 yards, made 27 touchdowns, and caught 224 passes for 2,199 yards and 15 touchdowns. Additionally, he was named three times to the Pro Bowl.
After his retirement, Cribbs returned to Birmingham to help his wife Vernessa raise their three children. Cribbs started a consulting company, Joe Cribbs Associates, which assists current and former NFL players with investments and other financial decisions. In 2005, Cribbs founded the Joe Cribbs Youth Foundation, which assists other charities working with Alabama youth. To date, Cribbs's charity has donated more than $150,000 worth of programs to Alabama youth.
Cribbs also is involved in professional sports. He was President of Team Alabama, part of the short-lived All-American Football League (AAFL), in the spring of 2008. Recently, he was named commissioner of another professional spring football league, the United National Gridiron League (UNGL). The UNGL, designed to be a minor league for the NFL, to date has not played a game and suspended league operations in 2010.
University of Alabama
Published February 18, 2009
Last updated July 19, 2011