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Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs officially retires

(AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann, File)

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) There will be no more returns for Josh Cribbs.

The former Browns Pro Bowl return specialist and wide receiver officially announced his retirement Wednesday from the NFL, ending a storybook career he began as an undrafted free agent quarterback out of Kent State.

Cribbs played eight seasons with Cleveland, where he blossomed into one of the league's best career returners. Cribbs hasn't played since 2014 with Indianapolis and had considered making a comeback over the past two seasons before saying on Twitter that he's hanging it up.

Cribbs thanked Cleveland fans for their support. He connected with them as much as any player since the team's expansion return in 1999, and it was Cleveland fans and their grass-roots "Pay The Man" effort that helped him land a long-term contract with the team.

"I had a great run that I had nothing to be ashamed about or look down on," he told the team's website. "I felt like I have nothing but great memories in playing in the NFL. I can now look myself in the mirror and say I'm done."

Cribbs wasn't your standard kick returner. He was plenty fast, but Cribbs was also a punishing runner able to break tackles before getting into the open field.

A three-time Pro Bowler, he was an All-Pro selection in 2009, finished tied for third in league history with 13,488 career return yards, third in kickoff return yards (11,113) and fifth in career return touchdowns (11). Cribbs wasn't limited to kick teams as he had 1,175 yards receiving, 808 yards rushing and nine TDs. He led the team in special teams tackles four times and totaled 125 such tackles.

"It means a lot and confirms to me that not only did I make the NFL, but I exceeded that," he said. "I was the best at what I did. The records were confirmation for me and still is confirmation. When people mention the best of the best in returners, they mention my name and that's good enough for me. To have my jersey in the Hall of Fame is good enough for me. To have played with some of the best talent in the world, to step on the field with some of the best athletes in the world, that's good enough for me.

"I'm at peace in my soul that my NFL career was a great success."

After the Browns chose not to re-sign him after the 2012 season, Cribbs played one season with the New York Jets and one for Indianapolis.

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Updated March 22, 2017

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