It wasn’t uncommon to see Josh Cribbs on television in Northeast Ohio when he spent eight years with the Cleveland Browns as a wide receiver and kick returner. Originally undrafted, Cribbs made a name for himself as one of the best kick returners in NFL history. (He was nominated for the NFL Hall of Fame in September.) Before that, he set several school records as a quarterback at Kent State. Now, however, audiences can tune in to see Cribbs making a different kind of television.
Alongside his wife, Maria, Cribbs hosts a morning talk show, “Cribbs in the CLE,” on WOIO CBS Channel 19 and CW 43 WUAB where “people can see our actual marriage play out on TV,” says Josh Cribbs.
Maria says the show is not news — and is an escape from everyday TV.
Josh adds, “When we do stuff together, it has always succeeded.”
Maria and Josh, who have been married for 17 years, don’t shy away from letting their real-life dynamic influence their on-camera work. The couple lives in North Royalton with their daughter, Kimorah, 16, and their son, Izzy, 10.
When asked why they stay in Northeast Ohio, the couple offers many reasons — including that their kids enjoy the seasons and it’s always felt like home.
“I am an Ohio girl,” Maria says, with Josh adding, “Cleveland has given me so much. I have found my whole family here.”
They challenge each other every day, both at home and on their show. Like most couples, they press one another about making time for the family — and staying off the phone. Above all else, they pride themselves on being intentional about all they do.
We sat down with Josh and Maria to discuss life, parenting and building a show and a brand.
Q: That work/life balance is so elusive for many parents; how do you find it?
Maria: We’re intentional about trying to cram in as much as we can while the kids are at school. Because when we’re off, we want to be off. That is our time to go work out, grocery shop, clean the house. We want to make sure we still have the time and energy for them.
Josh: Even when I played in the NFL, she’d say “When you get off, I know you’re tired, but you have a family. You have to come to work for your family.” So I’d get done and drink a Red Bull or some coffee to still have something in the tank to give to my family, because it wasn’t fair to give everything to the NFL and not to my family.
Q: How are you adjusting to working together every day as co-hosts?
Maria: I think we’re doing it well. I’m more of an independent person. Josh always wants to work together and do team stuff; he’s always thinking of the whole group. It’s forcing me to be more of a team player.
Josh: It has its ups and its downs — mostly ups. We have our disagreements and that comes off on the show. We are heavily critiquing ourselves throughout the show, throughout the commercial. We’re smiling on the show, but as soon as we go to commercial, we’re like, “What are you saying?! What are you doing?” Then it’s “5, 4, 3, 2, 1….Welcome back.” We have that dynamic, but it works. People can see our actual marriage play out on TV, which is a good thing.
Q: Has this experience taught you anything about each other?
Josh: It has taught us, especially me, that on our own, separately, we can do good. But together, we can do great. That’s what this show has really brought to light for me. When we both are doing something and heading one direction, the possibilities are unlimited.
Q: How do you hold each other accountable as partners and parents?
Josh: I can’t be afraid to challenge Maria. She’s very strong-minded. I pick and choose my battles with her. If I feel like there’s something that needs to be said, I’ll take the “L” for the day. I know after I say it she’s going to be upset, but afterwards I know she’ll think about what I said. I make sure that if I have to say it, that I say it in love. She took care of me (while we were) in college, so she worked as I trained to be in the NFL.
Maria (who never really stopped working, says): When Josh was in the NFL, I took care of everything in the house. All he had to do was go play football. Now that I’m working, too, I’ll say, “Can you go get Izzy from football? Can you pick this up from the store?” He’s not used to that. I think it’s more of an adjustment for him now that we’re both working.
Josh: We have family vision boards. Our daughter was big on that. For hours we’d sit at the table, cutting out our future, making plans, so we could actually see it. These days, we find we have to be intentional with our children. There are a lot more distractions, so we have to focus on them.
Q: Any hesitation about your son playing football?
Josh: None. He plays football and he’s very good at it. I fear for him, but not yet. As he gets older, I’ll have to see where it goes. I’m just going to engineer
his positions. He’s less likely to have issues at wide receiver than as a defensive player, because you have to deliver hits. So, I’ll try to steer him in the right position and direction where he can get the most out of it without getting injured.
Maria: With Josh, he looks healthy and fit. But he aches and is in a lot of pain daily — his back, his neck, his joints. So as a mother, I wouldn’t want my son to live like that as he matures. I know that Josh will do a great job of making sure that [Izzy] knows how to tackle and do everything right. But what about a kid he goes up against and doesn’t do something the right way? You can’t control those situations, so I worry about him.
Q: Your work and brand require a lot of time on social media. What kind of limits, if any, do you set for yourself?
Maria: I fuss at him all the time to get off the phone.
Josh: It’s a necessity. Our social media is an extension of our brand. We’re putting out our message and we get to tailor it. The problem is the time. The time that I should be with my family, hanging out and watching movies, I’m worried about social media, I’m worried about the image.
Maria: And my kids don’t realize he’s doing it for business, or he’s doing it for his brand. They see dad on his phone.
Q: You’re a fit couple. Do you work out together? Motivate each other? What choices do you make to stay healthy?
Josh: When I met her, it surprised me how disciplined she was. It was a way of life. As a way for me to get closer with her, I’d work out with her, and I’d pretend as though I wasn’t getting tired, that I could do more than her, try to compete with her.
Maria: I try to work out at least five days a week. I’m either eating really clean, or horrible. To compensate, now that I’m getting older and my metabolism doesn’t work like it used to, I have to be more conscious about what I eat. He doesn’t work out with me, because he can’t keep up with me.
Josh: That’s not true. But she works out for way too long. I don’t want to trick myself into thinking I’m playing football again. I had to train myself to get out of that mode of having to be exhausted to feel like I had a good workout. So, 30 minutes is my limit. I condition and I do weight training. Then I’m done, or I’ll dread doing it the next day.