By Ashley Schaff
To Redskins fans, Tuesday January 8, 2008 was the end of an era. It was announced that greatly respected and heralded coach Joe Gibbs chose to retire. To countless Redskins fans the resignation of Gibbs came as a shock.
At 67 years old, Gibbs has had a long and successful run. Between 1981 and 1992 Gibbs went to four super bowls, winning three (1982, 1987 and 1991). Gibbs took his place among other NFL legends in 1996 when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Although his 4-season return (2004-2007) was not as victorious as his first, Gibbs guided the team to an overall 31 wins and 36 losses. After a substandard 2006 season finish of 5-11, Gibbs was quoted to say that he was not going to leave the team because he had failed to revive the franchise.
“I hate to leave something unfinished,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs was relentless in the endeavor of pulling the team back together. After a rough point, the Redskins were pleasantly able to fight their way to the playoffs with a 9-7 record, however suffered a devastating loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round.
After finishing out the 2007 season, with a seemingly acceptable ending, it was a surprise to see Gibbs then resign.
“It is disappointing, [to see Gibbs resign] but not shocking,” said UMW sophomore Blake Murray. “He is the man. His legend in D.C. has more influence than any other coach.”
Thankfully to Redskins fans, Gibbs will remain apart of the team as a special adviser to team owner Dan Snyder. Yet the question remains;:who to promote as the new head coach?
“You can never replace Joe Gibbs,” said Snyder in a Washington Post interview. But the team must have a coach.
Although Snyder is working to fill the position, the final decision has not yet been made. Assistant coach Gregg Williams, Indianapolis Colts assistants Jim Caldwell and Ron Meeks (assistant to the Redskins in 2000), and former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator have been interviewed.
The possibilities seem endless, but no one seems to match up to Joe Gibbs. To Redskins fan Eric Rolander, his hopes are high for the upcoming season.
“As for next fall there’s no reason why the team can’t build on the success of this year,” said Rolander. “I hope Greg Williams gets the job and they stay inside the organization.”
Gibbs’ Redskins retained 11 winning seasons during his 12 years on the job, in addition to taking the team to the playoffs eight times. In the history of the NFL, only Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick are ahead of him in playoff winning percentages. His all-time win percentage of .635 is the third-best among all NFL coaches.
To have a Hall of Fame career as a head coach and remarkable seasons under his belt, Joe Gibbs unquestionably has accomplished a lot.
“It’s real tough to see him go for good, but at the same time I respect the reason he’s leaving the game and the team he loves,” said Rollander. “The Joe Gibbs era was one that will never be forgotten, he was a player’s coach that made the redskins what they are today.”