Vermeil Understands Situation

Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil knows why Joe Gibbs returned after a long absence. He, too, had been happy in his new life as an announcer. He, too, had spurned overtures from other clubs. And he, too, just knew he had to return.

`` think I understand completely why he left, and I understand completely why he's back,'' Vermeil said. ``Sooner or later you really understand what you're all about, what makes you move forward. He had a tremendous passion for [football], even though he was successful in his second career.''

But Vermeil struggled in his first two seasons back, leading many to wonder if he should quit again. Then came a Super Bowl in his third season. Now he has the Chiefs back in contention.

He knows what Gibbs faces.

``The first year back is a bit of a shock because you recognize pretty quickly how much you've forgotten,'' he said. ``You also realize quickly how much the game has progressed since you last coached. It took me awhile to do that and it might take Joe awhile. But it won't take him long.

"He'll be a tremendous influence on the Redskins' organization -- as long as they let him.''

Gibbs thought he had tamed his competitive instincts as a race car owner, his team winning two Winston Cup points championships. But there's a difference, Vermeil said. "He's driving the race car now,'' Vermeil said. ``He's a leader who wants to be hands-on, like he was with his auto racing team. But, he couldn't get in and drive. In the NFL he still can't go in the huddle and throw a pass or make a tackle, but he sure can direct things.''

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