A Fond Farewell to 'Gibbs 2.0'
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Rudy Crutchfield and Steve Hadeed have been close friends since their days at Wheaton High School. One thing they have in common: Both are obsessed Redskins fans.
It was Crutchfield who four years ago called his buddy with the hot news that Coach Joe Gibbs was returning. "It's like the second coming!" Crutchfield recalled saying from the loading dock of a commercial hardware store where he works.
On the other end of the line, in front of his computer, a single tear of joy rolled down Hadeed's face.
Yesterday, Crutchfield, 38, called Hadeed, 37, in Lexington, Ky., where he was in a news blackout of sorts: an annual sales meeting. "Haven't you heard?!" Crutchfield asked.
Their ensuing conversation -- so different than the one when Gibbs made his triumphant return in 2004 -- summed up what so many Redskins fans felt yesterday upon learning that Gibbs had retired.
First off: respect for the man. Hadeed puts Gibbs No. 2, behind John F. Kennedy, on the list of people outside of family and friends he respects most.
Second off: hope, even among people such as Hadeed who weren't sure Gibbs should leave, that a new coach can bring more victories.
And, of course: trying to read tea leaves to divine how this would shake up the rest of the coaching staff and to psychoanalyze just what was going on in Gibbs's head.
"I hate to hear these words come out of my mouth," Hadeed said in an interview from Kentucky, choosing his words carefully, and with a certain degree of pain. "At some point, the game had evolved much more than anyone thought while he was gone. I honestly don't know if Joe Gibbs is as effective as he was 15 years ago."
Crutchfield admits to stronger feelings. Early in December, shortly after Washington lost to Buffalo, 17-16, in a game that may have turned on a Gibbs blunder, Crutchfield picked up a marker and wrote "Joe Must Go" on the whiteboard at work.
"You're bailing on your boy!" Bubacarr Bah, 28, a fellow salesman at TW Perry, told him that day.
Yesterday, Bah sat back and enjoyed listening to people all around him as they wondered what will come next.
He's a Cowboys fan.