BEREA - Joshua Cribbs couldn't get out of Cleveland Browns Stadium fast enough after the Browns' 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins last Sunday.
No time for interviews. No time to chit chat with teammates.
It was an unusual way for Cribbs to end what could have been his last home game with the Browns. Normally he spends enough time in the locker room to discuss the game, whether it's a win or a loss.
It turns out that Cribbs was too emotional to talk to reporters. He expected more from the team overall and was disappointed when no one delivered.
"Like all the fans I had high hopes for the team," Cribbs said. "Maybe I had a little over-confidence in the ability of our team, but we're young and making mistakes.
"We're a good football team, and I was very disappointed with the way we played and what we showed out there on the field. I felt like we were the better team. Coach (Pat Shurmur) hit it on the nail when he said, 'We played against the Redskins, but we were our own enemies.' We lost to ourselves. We haven't overcome ourselves."
The uncertainty that has gripped the Browns in the ownership change and the arrival of Joe Banner as CEO will certainly filter throughout the locker room. Players that were highly regarded by the previous regime of President Mike Holmgren, General Manager Tom Heckert and Shurmur won't necessarily be looked at the same way by owner James Haslam III, Banner and the next general manager.
Cribbs, who will be 30 on June 9, could fit into that category. The three-year, $18.5 million contract extension he signed in 2010 will end in March. He's still an effective return specialist and all-around special teams player, but the new power brokers might be reluctant to sign him to a lucrative, long-term deal.
Cribbs hasn't helped his cause by failing to develop into a dependable receiver and occasionally complaining about his lack of use on offense. The development of rookie receiver Josh Gordon has cut into Cribbs' time on the field this season. He has just six catches for 54 yards.
The value Cribbs brings to special teams has been noticed by fans, who cast more Pro Bowl votes for him than any specials teams player in the AFC. The fan vote is one-third of the total (players are a third and coaches the other third).
Cribbs received the second most votes as a return specialist. Through 14 games he's averaging 27.6 yards on kick returns and 12.5 yards on punt returns.
"It lets me know that hard work doesn't go unnoticed, especially in this town, being a blue-collar town," Cribbs said. "It's one-third of the vote, so I don't hang everything on the fan vote, although it means a lot to me. I know in their eyes I'm a Pro Bowler."
Cribbs has been one of the NFL's elite returners from the day he arrived in camp as an undrafted rookie out of Kent State in 2005. He's the franchise career leader in kick returns, kick return yards, combined net yards, punt returns, punt return yards, punt return average and return touchdowns. He's the NFL career leader in kick returns for touchdowns with eight.
In addition, Cribbs is one of the NFL's most complete special teams players. He's proud of being the top vote getter in the AFC.
"It means a lot to be considered and not to be an average guy," Cribbs said. "I'm not washed up, like they say. To be top anything in the NFL is a good thing."
Phil Dawson was second in fan voting for kicker. Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson also finished second. Offensive tackle Joe Thomas was fifth, and running back Trent Richardson was fifth.