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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins.
Just recently, I assured worried readers that the Redskins would not be suffering from the degradation of character that would result from the acquisition of a certain Minnesota Viking. Now, there's the Joe Gibbs "NFL short, NASCAR forever" comments. Lay down on the couch here and let me walk you through why this is nothing new.
The headline and lead quote for the AP story on ESPN.com were certainly, well, startling. Under the headline Gibbs Expects Short NFL Stay, Long NASCAR Run
"My time in football will be short,'' Gibbs said Tuesday during a stop by the NASCAR media tour at Joe Gibbs Racing. "Hopefully, we'll be here forever. If we don't win a few more games next year, my time in football will be real short.''Wow, you think. "Short"? "Real short"? Will St. Joe be around for this year's draft? Who's going to replace him? How could Gibbs do this to us? Where's the nearest tall building with an accessible jumping area?
No need to jump. A little further in the article:
"I signed a five-year contract and what I'd like to do is get the Redskins back to being a consistent winner,'' Gibbs said. "I don't know what that will take. I don't know if it's five years or a little longer than that.''Of course, phrases like "five years" or "a little longer than that" don't make good headlines, especially when the sports media template is that Gibbs won't last long. So you didn't read those quotes, the ones that were the heart of the story and got all bent out of shape.
The headline here should have been:
"Gibbs Plans to Coach at Least Four More Years"So why the "short" talk from Gibbs? The man, I'm sure, plans on living another 30 years or more. Out of those years, he will spend a half dozen, maybe a couple less, coaching the Redskins. He'll probably own his NASCAR team until he goes to that great sideline or pit row in the sky. In relative terms, his stay with the Redskins will indeed be a short amount time.
Also remember who Gibbs was speaking to. His comments were given during an event associated with NASCAR's season-opening media tour. That means that his audience was NASCAR fans, especially those of his drivers and, more importantly, to the sponsors of Joe Gibbs Racing. Certainly, the folks who put up some long green to back the winner that is Joe Gibbs must have felt some despair in reading a little over a year ago that Gibbs was abandoning his full-time involvement in the venture that they sponsored. Gibbs needed to throw them a bone and he did just that in saying that, like the Terminator, he'll be back.
So calm down, nothing has changed. The bad news is that there still is a lot of work to do to make the Redskins a consistent winner again. The good news is that Joe Gibbs has again committed to staying around until that job is done.