Former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver and kick returner Josh Cribbs has a dilemma that is facing many parents these days. He wants his 6-year-old son Israel to play football; his wife is worried about the potential dangers.
Their solution: Cribbs is helping start youth flag football leagues in the Cleveland area for children ages 6-10. The Elite Football League is scheduled to begin in January with the idea of teaching the fundamentals without the contact. Cribbs said proper technique will be at the cornerstone of the effort.
“A lot of parents are worried about concussions with their kids in contact sports,” Cribbs told Cleveland.com. “I want my son to play contact sports but my wife is so scared that every time she watches a football game she thinks somebody is going to get knocked out.
“My son (Israel) will play football. It probably will be flag football up until high school. I want him to wait as long as possible.”
Cribbs and partner Steve Sanders are hoping to open at least two flag football circuits and are currently accepting registrations.
Cribbs, 32, played 10 seasons in the NFL, including eight with the Browns. He also played with the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts.
According to a PBS/Frontline database, the Browns have had the most concussions in the NFL since the start of the 2012 season. Among the 31 was one suffered by Cribbs on a return in 2012 against the Ravens. Cribbs said he played the next game despite his family urging him to retire.
“(My wife) almost became like shell-shocked,” Cribbs told Cleveland.com. “It’s scary to her because of the hits I’ve taken, especially getting knocked out in Baltimore. Concussions are a real big problem not just in the NFL but throughout the country and in youth league sports.”