BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham Stallions running back Joe Cribbs, who was obtained in a court battle with the Buffalo Bills, has walked out on his five-year contract demanding more money, team officials said today.
Jerry Sklar, Stallions' president, released a statement saying the Stallions had filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court to have the $2.35 million, five-year contract with Cribbs enforced.
Sklar said Cribbs wants to more than double the contract, apparently seeking to become the highest paid player in the league.
Herschel Walker of the New Jersey Generals is considered the top paid player in the USFL at $6 million over four years.
'The Birmingham Stallions feel that it is extremely unfair to the Birmingham Stallion franchise, its coaches, its players and most of all its fans, for Joe to make these demands and to leave the team at this crucial point in the season,' Sklar said.
'Joe is one of the highest-paid players in professional football, and we feel his demands are unwarranted and unjustified.'
Sklar said Cribbs was signed to a five-year contract in 1983 for about $2.35 million. The former Auburn star and NFL All-Pro is leading the USFL in rushing with 1,105 yards, an average of five yards a carry and 314 yards more than Walker. The Stallions have posted a 9-2 record and are in first place in the USFL's Southern Division.
Cribbs signed with the Stallions two weeks before the Bills' 1983 camp was to open. The NFL team challenged the contract in court, but a federal judge ruled in February that Cribbs' contract with the Stallions was valid.
'We stood 100 percent behind Joe during his lawsuit against Buffalo in the months prior to the USFL season and helped him defeat Buffalo's efforts to make his stay in Buffalo,' Sklar said.
'Three weeks after the 1984 season started, Joe Cribbs demanded that we renegotiate his contract and he threatened to walk out on his contract if his demands were not met to more than double his already substantianl compensation.
'We told Joe that we already have a valid and enforceable contract with him and that there is no basis for demanding a renegotiation. Joe has now seen fit to withhold his services from the team.
Sklar said Cribbs failed to report to practice Tuesday. He was held to 57 yards on 12 carries in the Stallions' last game, a 43-11 loss to the Philadelphia Stars.
Cribbs, who apparently will miss Friday's game against Jacksonville, could not be reached.
Cribbs also left the Bills in a dispute in 1982, missing training camp and the first two games of the strike-shortened season in an unsuccessful attempt to have his contract renegotiated.
Stallions quarterback Cliff Stoudt said the disappearance of Cribbs was a mystery to the team and his loss would be a severe blow.