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Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs
Head Coach
Mocksville, NC
November 25, 1940
High School
Santa Fe, California
San Diego State
NFL Career
16 Seasons, 248 games
Washington Redskins
1981-1992, 2004-2007

Career Highlights

• Three-time Super Bowl Champion (XVII, XXII, XXVI)
• Four Super Bowl Appearances
• Washington Redskins Ring of Fame
• Washington Redskins 90 Greatest
• Pro Football Hall of Fame 1996
• NFL 100th Anniversary All Time Team
• NASCAR Hall of Fame 2020


• Two-time AP Coach of the Year
• Two-time PFWA Coach of the Year
• Three-time Sportning News Coach of the Year
• UPI Coach of the Year
• In Ashburn, Virginia, the street leading to the practice facility is named Coach Gibbs Drive

Saint Gibbs

Joe Gibbs is one of the most iconic figures in Washington Redskins history, having served as the team’s head coach for 16 seasons across two different stints. During his time with the team, Gibbs helped lead the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories and established himself as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.

Gibbs was born on November 25, 1940, in Mocksville, North Carolina. He played college football at San Diego State University and later began his coaching career there as an assistant coach in 1964.

In 1973, Gibbs joined the NFL as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was there until 1977 as the Runnings Back coach until moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive coordinator in 1978.

He then spent the 1979 and 1980 seasons in San Diego as the offensive coordinator under Don Coryell. Gibbs was the man who put the highly successful “Air Coryell” offense on the map. The Chargers set countless offensive records with Gibbs and Dan Fouts in their two years. They put up an unheard of 400 yards of offense per game in 1980.

Washington Bound

That led to Gibbs becoming the Redskins Head Coach in 1981 after 17 years as an assistant.

It didn’t start out all that well. Washington went 0-5 in their first five games. Scrutiny was mounting in the press, but owner Jack Kent Cooke didn’t have any doubts. He boldly stated that the Redskins would turn things around and finish 8-8. Which is exactly what happened.

The second season under Gibbs saw the players on strike. When they returned, Washington marched all the way to the Super Bowl. They defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII. Riggo’s Run became the most recognized play in franchise history.

Gibbs, Cooke and Riggo

They would return to the Super Bowl again the following year. This time, as favorites. They finished the regular season with a stellar 14-2 record, before pounding the Los Angeles Rams 51-7 at home in the divisional round of the playoffs. In the NFC Championship, they edged out the San Francisco 49ers on the strength of a last minute field goal.

Then they were unceremoniously pounded by the Los Angeles Raiders 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII.

Exceptional Standards

But under Gibbs’ leadership, the Redskins had become one of the most dominant teams in the NFL, with a high-powered offense and a tough, hard-nosed defense.

Gibbs was known for his attention to detail, his innovative offensive schemes, and a relentless work ethic that demanded the same from his players. He was also known for his ability to motivate and inspire his team, often delivering rousing speeches that fired up his players before big games.

So while Washington would not return to the big dance for a few years, they were always in the hunt.

They finished the 1984 season at 11-5 and were NFC East Champs. They lost a tough game to a tough Chicago Bears team 23-19 in the playoffs. That Bears team was one of the greatest to ever take the field and won the Super Bowl.

Washington didn’t make the playoffs in 1985 after finishing 10-6 in the regular season. They also lost their quarterback. That was the year that Joe Theismann suffered his gruesome leg break.

In 1986, the Redskins once again made the playoffs with a stout 12-4 season record. They beat the Rams 19-7 in the Wild Card and even beat the defending champ Chicago Bears in the divisional round. Then they ran into a hot New York Giants team and Lawrence Taylor. The Giants dominated and won 17-0 to hand Gibbs his only ever NFC Championship defeat.

After a few years of being the bridesmaid and not the bride, the team had learned to expect only the best for themselves.

Number Two

The league saw another strike in 1987, and once again, Gibbs and the Redskins capitalized.

They defeated the Chicago Bears 21-17 at Soldier Field in the divisional round. Then they beat the Minnesota Vikings 17-10 in the NFC Championship game. That set up a date with the high flying Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

That was an experience that you just had to “be there”. After falling behind in the first quarter, the Redskins put together the best quarter of football ever played in a Super Bowl. Perhaps ever. they scored 35 unanswered points in the second quarter in what would become known simply as, “The Quarter”.

The Broncos had no response and were beaten soundly 42-10.

Washington had their second Super Bowl under the mighty Gibbs.

The Calm

A funny thing happened in 1988. The Redskins had their first losing season under Gibbs. Washington finished with a 7-9 record and out of the playoff hunt. Most of the Super Bowl pieces were still there, they just couldn’t put it together.

In 1989, Gibbs and his Redskins again finished out of the playoff picture. They finished 10-6 but that was only good enough for third in the division behind a very strong 12-4 Giants team, and 11-5 Eagles team. These were the glory days of the NFC Beast after all.

The same held true in 1990. Washington again finished 10-6 but that was not enough to make the playoffs. L.T. and the Giants were 13-3 that season.

Gibbs kept putting together solid teams but they seemed a day late and a dollar short.

The Best Was Yet To Come

Could Gibbs put it all together for the 1991 season?

He certainly could.

The team won it’s first eleven games and finished the regular season 1t 14-2.  They were dominant week in and week out. Mark Rypien was sacked just seven times in the whole season, and just sat in the pocket throwing dime after dime.

They crushed the Atlanta Falcons 24-7 in the first round of the playoffs, and then crushed the Detroit Lions even worse in the next, 41-10.

The Buffalo Bills were expected to end the domination in the Super Bowl game, but barely made a dent. The game may have finished 37-24 and sounded closer than it was, but the reality is that the Redskins destroyed them too. It was 24-0 in the third quarter, and the Bills were barely breathing.

How often do you see starters being pulled in a Super Bowl? But that’s exactly what happened when the Redskins were up 37-10 in the fourth quarter.

It was a drubbing.

Joe Jackson Gibbs had won his third Super Bowl in a decade, and became the only coach in history to accomplish it with three different quarterbacks.

That’s called a l-e-g-a-c-y.

Carrying On

The defending champs did make the playoffs the following season, but only just.

They squeaked into a Wild Card slot on the last day of the season and even managed to beat the Vikings. That was as far as they would go though. They fell to the 49ers the following week in the divisional game.

Surprise, Surprise

The 49ers game would be Joe Gibbs last. At least it looked like it.

He retired in March of 1993.

Redskins fans were gobsmacked.

So were the players.

“It was probably the greatest shock I’ve ever gotten in my life.” – Jeff Bostic

There were whispers that the man who had worked tirelessly on a football sideline for the last 30 years was suffering from it health-wise.

Throughout his coaching career, Gibbs was known for his deep Christian faith and dedication to his family. It was time for him to spend some time with that family.

He had also started the Joe Gibbs Racing Team the year before in 1992.

Adding It Up

In his 12 seasons at the helm of the Redskins, Gibbs had won three Super Bowls, reached the playoffs eight times, and won 4 NFC East titles. He had just one losing season. His winning percentage of .683 was behind only the greats Vince Lombardi and John Madden in the annuls of NFL history.

His post-season record was an audacious 16-5.

He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Racing On

Gibbs didn’t exactly retire in the normal sense. While his son J.D. Gibbs was the one who ran the daily operations of the racing team, Joe was certainly never far away.

Together, they forged the same type of path in racing that Joe had in the NFL.

They were five-time NASCAR Cup Series champions, four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champions, and four-time Daytona 500 champions.

Joe was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020.

The Return

In January 2004, the unthinkable happened.

Joe Gibbs returned to the Washington Redskins.

There had always been murmurs of Gibbs wanting to return – he even tried to be part of a conglomerate that tried to buy the team in 1999.

But when it happened, it was as close to euphoria as Redskins fans had experienced since January of 1992.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out that well.

Gibbs suffered his worst season as a head coach in 2004, finishing 6-10.

The following season, Gibbs got the team to the playoffs. They even managed to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round, but that was as far as they would go. They lost 20-10 to the Seattle Seahawks who would ultimately make it all the way to the Super Bowl.

2006 was a disaster. Gibbs suffered the low point of his coaching career with a 5-11 record.

In 2007, they managed to get to the playoffs again on the strength of a 9-7 regular season. They were defeated by the Seattle Seahawks. That was also the year that the team had to deal with the heart-breaking loss of Sean Taylor. It’s hard to speculate on just how much Gibbs meant to that squad. His faith seemed to keep everyone together.

He retired for good in January of 2008. Despite some really tough seasons, the team had qualified for the playoffs in two of Gibbs’ four seasons. That’s actually once more than they managed in the 11 years before he came back.

Gibbs would finish with a coaching record of 154-94. Even with a less than triumphant return, that’s still a winning percentage of .621 – or an average of essentially 10 wins per season.

He was quite probably the greatest piece of the Redskins puzzle in franchise history.

What a legend.

Life After Football

Gibbs has co-authored two books. His book Joe Gibbs: Fourth And One is a must-read for all Redskins fans. He also wrote Racing To Win in 2003.

In 2009, he penned Game Plan For Life. In it, he discusses topics for leading a contemporary Christian lifestyle.

He started a charity that same year with the same name. In 2017, the organization created a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary campus in the Nash Correctional Institute in nashville, North Carolina.

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