Gibbs' Genius a Throwback

Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver 07.18.06--Most football types that the media want to brand as geniuses smugly and gladly accept the label. Not Joe Gibbs, who tries to write off his success in two sports to luck. We know better; we've seen the light.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

After the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XVII in Joe Gibbs' second season as an NFL head coach, some members of the media suggested that since he had beaten Bud Grant, Tom Landry and Don Shula in consecutive weeks to claim the NFL championship Gibbs was now a certified genius. Gibbs did more that shy away from such notions, he did all he could to discourage them. He pushed the idea that was more like Lou Gehrig, the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Today, 24 years later, Gibbs has five more championships under his belt, two in the NFL and three in his second career, NASCAR. He has a Redskins franchise that was in turmoil two years ago positioned as one of the favorites to contend for Gibbs' sixth major sports title. Rather than letting his ego grow in the slightest he remains humble. He's spent so many years propagating the notion that he's just an average guy who has had an extraordinary run of good fortune that many have come to believe it.

Part of the reason that he can get away with playing the role of the bespectacled, mild-mannered accountant next door is that he doesn't fit the mold of what most of us think of as the "genius" type. You know, the smartest guy in the room types who have an immediate answer for everything and a sales pitch to go with it.

Gibbs is more of a throwback, not to the early days of the NFL but to the late 1800's. When he wanted to make an electric light that would burn bright and clean for hours, Thomas Alva Edison didn't just throw something together, flip a switch and, bingo, there's your light bulb. He worked for endless hours, fiddling with various methods and elements before he finally came up with the right mix of components that worked.

Likewise, Gibbs doesn't just take a piece of chalk and draw up a play on the blackboard and just repeat that until he had a game plan. He and his assistant coaches hole themselves up in the Submarine at Redskins Park virtually all night, changing elements, tweaking and massaging things until they seem to be just right. And then Gibbs and company will go over it again, just to make sure.

Unlike Edison, who just had to apply some current for a while to see if his idea worked, Gibbs has to wait to test his game plan. Also, Edison didn't have anyone on the other side of the lab throwing rocks at his invention, trying to destroy it although he did face some fierce competition as others were trying to make a light bulb first. Every Sunday Gibbs faces opposition that is determined to smash holes in his plans.

To clarify things, this comparison is not to make Gibbs' accomplishments out to be greater than those of Edison. Winning almost two out of every three football games is great and all, but the thought of having to type this article by candlelight is not a pleasant one.

While Gibbs won't be pulling all-nighters putting an offensive plan together—he was lucky enough to delegate this duty to the best in the business, Al Saunders—he will still be working long, hard hours to build a winning football team, changing a filament here, adjusting the strength of a current there. The result could be something that is still shining brightly in early February in Miami.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories

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You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

After the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XVII in Joe Gibbs' second season as an NFL head coach, some members of the media suggested that since he had beaten Bud Grant, Tom Landry and Don Shula in consecutive weeks to claim the NFL championship Gibbs was now a certified genius. Gibbs did more that shy away from such notions, he did all he could to discourage them. He pushed the idea that was more like Lou Gehrig, the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Today, 24 years later, Gibbs has five more championships under his belt, two in the NFL and three in his second career, NASCAR. He has a Redskins franchise that was in turmoil two years ago positioned as one of the favorites to contend for Gibbs' sixth major sports title. Rather than letting his ego grow in the slightest he remains humble. He's spent so many years propagating the notion that he's just an average guy who has had an extraordinary run of good fortune that many have come to believe it.

Part of the reason that he can get away with playing the role of the bespectacled, mild-mannered accountant next door is that he doesn't fit the mold of what most of us think of as the \"genius\" type. You know, the smartest guy in the room types who have an immediate answer for everything and a sales pitch to go with it.

Gibbs is more of a throwback, not to the early days of the NFL but to the late 1800's. When he wanted to make an electric light that would burn bright and clean for hours, Thomas Alva Edison didn't just throw something together, flip a switch and, bingo, there's your light bulb. He worked for endless hours, fiddling with various methods and elements before he finally came up with the right mix of components that worked.

Likewise, Gibbs doesn't just take a piece of chalk and draw up a play on the blackboard and just repeat that until he had a game plan. He and his assistant coaches hole themselves up in the Submarine at Redskins\r\n Park virtually all night, changing elements, tweaking and massaging things until they seem to be just right. And then Gibbs and company will go over it again, just to make sure.

Unlike Edison, who just had to apply some current for a while to see if his idea worked, Gibbs has to wait to test his game plan. Also, Edison didn't have anyone on the other side of the lab throwing rocks at his invention, trying to destroy it although he did face some fierce competition as others were trying to make a light bulb first. Every Sunday Gibbs faces opposition that is determined to smash holes in his plans.

To clarify things, this comparison is not to make Gibbs' accomplishments out to be greater than those of Edison. Winning almost two out of every three football games is great and all, but the thought of having to type this article by candlelight is not a pleasant one.

While Gibbs won't be pulling all-nighters putting an offensive plan together—he was lucky enough to delegate this duty to the best in the business, Al Saunders—he will still be working long, hard hours to build a winning football team, changing a filament here, adjusting the strength of a current there. The result could be something that is still shining brightly in early February in Miami.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins\r\nFrom A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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