Q: I understand you visited a few teams; what was it that appealed to you about the Raiders and how did you wind up here?
Cribbs: I feel like the Raiders are a traditional, winning team like Cleveland is. They won a lot in the past — they have a history of it. It’s a blue-collar, underdog city and it would be so great to come here and win games and fight for an opportunity to have a chance to win games. I feel like the Raiders are moving in the right direction and I would love to be a part of it when they turn things around.
Q: You’ve been here at least a couple times in the past as a visiting player, what were your impressions?
Cribbs: This is a hardcore team. I knew of the tradition with it and that’s what I’m going to keep harping on today. I knew of the tradition of this organization and all they stand for and it’s one thing that stuck me. Not just that, but the coaching staff as well and the organization. I really love the opportunity playing for Bobby April, the special teams coordinator, and have the chance to help him put his niche on things. He’s a great special teams coach. I just want to come here and succeed, and I feel like I have the best opportunity to do that here in Oakland. Playing against Oakland, I’m familiar with a lot of the guys because I played against them. I had the opportunity to join some former teammates off of my team and keep the ball rolling.
Q: As you made your rounds, there was some discussion about what shape your knee was going to be in, and I believe even the [New York] Jets general manager [John Idzik] had said your knee wasn’t right yet, which is kind of highly unusual for a GM of another team to make a public comment on someone’s health. That aside, where are you physically?
Cribbs: I’m doing well. We never had planned to comment on injury but we play our first game in September or August and it’s barely June. We’re not lining up to play football. If we were lining up to play football in June then it would be a hot topic. I will be ready to play football when it’s time to play football and I think that is the important thing. I don’t know why the Jets GM would come out and say that other than use it as a negotiation tactic. It was well perceived and I think, as a whole, everyone kind of understood what was going on about that. I’m an Oakland Raider now, I’m a part of Raider Nation, and that’s another reason why I chose Oakland. Rich fan base, similar to Cleveland. They are a diehard fan base. They’re all about their team, win or lose. They hold their team and players to a high standard and that’s what I won’t have to miss coming to Oakland because it’s the same situation, play hard for the fans and they’ll reward you.
Q: Are you hoping that there will be a role as a receiver besides being a kick returner?
Cribbs: Definitely. I feel like it’s a definite possibility for competition at that position. At this point, my job is to come in and be a special teams' guru to help solidify our special teams unit in the NFL and to raise our goals and our standards. If we do that, we will become an elite unit. I’m just fortunate enough to be able to assist in that under Coach April.
Q: How much did the kickoff rule a couple years back affect kick returns league-wide and for yourself?
Cribbs: I think it affected everyone as well as the coaches and the players because you have to teach a different style of play. You have to re-teach certain fundamentals that you’ve been teaching and coaching styles that have been going on for years. I was against the rule but it doesn’t matter because everyone has to deal with it, but at the same time, I came in under a different rule. It wasn’t like I was a rookie when the rule changed and I had the opportunity to be able to adjust and move forward in that matter. I had to change my style of play as well. I still kind of disagree with it but I got to take it moving and I just got to move on with my business in that matter. I still haven’t found the significance of the rule change other than them saying it’s supposedly supposed to stop injury. But at the same time, I understand that the NFL is trying to make the League safer. I commend those efforts, but football is football. Its 100 percent injury. It’s not ‘if’ you’re going to get injured, it’s ‘when.’ We know this sport is what we signed up for, so I just try to play it as I see it. The rule changes every year, a certain rule changes. So I hope in the near future, there’s not so many rule changes to come. It really kind of dilutes the game of football and it’s becoming a different sport than what we all grew up on.
Q: Chris Kluwe, from the Vikings, has said on Fox that he was going to be joining the Raiders too. There has been no announcement to that regard yet, but just curious as to your impression of fielding punts from him and what it says to the Raiders commitment to special teams that they’re going after guys like you and Chris.
Cribbs: I commend the effort. I wanted to also come to a team that the head coach, the GM and organization were committing to their special teams unit. I feel like we have a great special teams unit. You can have the ability to change the football game. When you have a dynamic special teams unit, you can be slightly subpar on offense and defense but the special teams carry. When you don’t have a good special teams, you’ve got to have a good defense and a good offense. But with a dynamic special teams, we can set up field position for the offense and pin opposing offenses deep in their own territory to set up a good opportunity for our defense to stop them. So, I really commend their efforts to creating a dynamic situation for our special teams to be an elite team in the NFL.