For Gibbs, an Offseason Through the Looking Glass
The first time Joe Gibbs's wife, Pat, found out the Hall of Fame coach was thinking about returning to the NFL, she strongly cautioned him of the consequences.
"You're going to ruin your good name," Pat told her husband.
In retelling the story yesterday afternoon in Ashburn, Gibbs repeated the punchline, "After the first year, we're halfway there."
The coach almost hiccupped as he laughed. He cackled and laughed some more.
On the day his team reported to training camp, he trotted out the old, Gibbsian self-deprecation routine. He tried his best to camouflage the frustration of winning six games and losing 10 last season and he rightly tried to downplay the most bizarro of offseasons.
Team officials speed-dialed Gibbs's number for months, each time relating some strange-but-true tale about his football players.
"I'm on vacation and I get the calls, 'You're not going to believe this,' " Gibbs said. " 'Yes, I will.' "
Between Sean Taylor allegedly beating down some fellow who may have stolen his all-terrain vehicles in Miami and Clinton Portis nearly going to court for failing to pay a former teammate $20,000 in exchange for his jersey number, Gibbs got used to the good, the bad and the just plain weird.
In April, LaVar Arrington went on some Show-Me-More-Love rant -- all because the team had the temerity to not promptly release the fact that he had a second knee surgery. Poor LaVar did not feel like Mr. Redskin anymore.
Antonio Pierce and Fred Smoot bolted for other teams less than a year after they were called core players. Laveranues Coles said owner Dan Snyder threatened to send him a plasma television because he was going to be watching the Redskins instead of playing if he didn't get religion quick.
On it went. And that's hardly taking into account the mess Gibbs and the Redskins got themselves into. They misquoted their own press release before the draft, then called a press conference to spank the media for its mistake.
Some of the foibles you could not make up. Washington was docked three offseason practices by the NFL when the league officials witnessed video of forbidden contact scrimmages on a Web site -- the Redskins' team Web site! Yes, unwittingly, they turned themselves in.