CLEVELAND - Former Cleveland Brown Josh Cribbs knows a thing a two about concussions. He sat down with us to talk openly about the concussions he's suffered during his career, and what he sees as the biggest problem when it comes to football helmets.
In 2012, Cribbs was knocked unconscious during a game against the Baltimore Ravens. "For me, getting hit like that was an eye opener. My parents didn't want me to play anymore. My wife was in tears. It struck me. I'm like 'Wow. The sport I love could actually take my life.' It has the ability to take my life away," Cribbs said.
We wanted his opinion on our investigation. We showed him the Virginia Tech Wake Forest University Helmet Rating System. "I'm surprised. Wow! I wore a Riddell helmet all the way up from rec. ball to the NFL. Wow, I should have worn a better helmet. I might have some brain cells left in my head," Cribbs said while looking at the rating system. The helmet Cribbs referred to is the Riddell VSR4. It received a low 1-star rating and Riddell itself urged players to stop wearing it in 2011. The company even offers a trade-in program for the VSR4 to move players into newer models. But the VSR4 is still in use on some high school football fields. Our investigation found 20 area schools still using the VSR4. Cribbs hopes our investigation opens the eyes of athletic directors and parents. "Personally, looking at the high school level, you want kids protected. You know, with them being under-skilled and how to properly tackle, they need assistance. And the way they can get that assistance is through wearing better helmets," Cribbs explained.
He also said funding can't be an issue because some of the lower rated helmets are actually more expensive than the higher rated ones. "Going through the sport myself I would want my son protected. Any father, any parent would want their children protected to the max. I would tell them directly, 'Do you care about your athletes? Do you care about the safety of your athletes? If the answer is yes, why are they in 1 and 2 star helmets instead of a 4 star or 5 star?'
I want to see the effort made. I want it not to be about a financial thing. I want it to be a mandatory," Cribbs demanded.
Cribbs told us he now wears a 5-star rated helmet. Given his previous concussions, he believes the one he has chosen gives him the best chance at avoiding a concussion in the future. However Cribbs is also quick to point out that no helmet can prevent all concussions. The Kent State graduate signed with the Jets in October of last year. He and his family still have a home in the Cleveland-area.