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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Courtroom drama

   July 2, 1983 -- Some local sports reporters spent part of 1983 in an unfamiliar place -- a court room.

   Joe Cribbs wanted to leave the Buffalo Bills and jump to the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League. Cribbs had been a very good running back for his first three years in the National Football League, going past 1,000 yards in his first two years. But the former Auburn star wanted to return to the state of Alabama once his initial contract had expired.

   As could be guessed, a court case followed. Could the talented runner start packing?

   Yes. Cribbs won his case on this date and signed to leave Buffalo once his original four-year deal was done after the 1983 season. He picked up 1,131 yards in 1983 as a lameduck, and then went to Birmingham.

   It didn't work out happily ever after for anyone. Cribbs led the USFL in rushing in 1984 (1,467 yards) and was good in 1985 (1,047 yards). When Cribbs came back to Buffalo for the 1985 season, he wasn't the same player.

  Cribbs couldn't displace Greg Bell at halfback and was traded to San Francisco. He wasn't much more than a backup in his final three years of football. Cribbs' departure didn't make him popular in Buffalo, of course, but his contributions to some good teams in the early 1980's shouldn't be overlooked.

--- Budd Bailey

   This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Larry Costello, Niagara guard - 1931.


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.