Cribbs was born in Sulligent, Lamar County. He played collegiately at Auburn University along with future NFL backs William Andrews and James Brooks. He began his professional career in 1980 with the Buffalo Bills.
After being drafted in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Cribbs went on to start all 16 games of his rookie year with Buffalo, finishing with 1185 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. His performance earned him consensus UPI AFL-AFC Rookie of the Year honors and a spot in the Pro Bowl, the only rookie chosen as a starter that year. In five seasons with the team, split around a detour with the USFL, Cribbs had 13 100-yard games and ran for 1,000 yards in a season three times.
In 2007, Cribbs was named president of Team Alabama, Birmingham's planned AAFL franchise. The league cancelled its scheduled 2008 season just before training camp was to begin. In June 2008 Cribbs was named commissioner of the newly-formed United National Gridiron League, which planned to place a team at Legion Field in 2009.
- Segrest, Doug (March 26, 2008) "Team president, head coach no longer with AAFL team." The Birmingham News
- Joe Cribbs. (October 14, 2007) Wikipedia - accessed January 27, 2008.
- About.com. "AFL/AFC Rookie of the Year" - accessed June 19, 2005
- databaseFootball.com. "Joe Cribbs Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards"- accessed June 19, 2005