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Redskins' Past and Present, Jim Zorn and Joe Gibbs, Spend a Day at the Races

Redskins Coach Jim Zorn said he and Joe Gibbs talked football last month
Redskins Coach Jim Zorn said he and Joe Gibbs talked football last month "just like anybody else would." (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
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If the post-Gibbs Redskins were still going to be all about Joe, what kind of environment would that be for a newbie to foster respect in the locker room?

As the long season wore on, it was also natural for Zorn to wonder what made Gibbs so beloved as a leader, so good at what he did.

They spent probably an hour together in Charlotte talking, mostly because the weather forced postponement of the race. Zorn never heard a car start, but he got to see how Gibbs meticulously runs a team.

"To see Joe in his element as a racing owner, how much he is involved, was pretty incredible," Zorn said, recalling that one crew member he met from Michigan was flown in specifically to take care of the two rear tires of Gibbs's Home Depot car.

"He had all the parts and systems working and he made it seem so easy."

"I think he has a good feel for the job and where he is," Gibbs said of Zorn. "He understands coaching. He understands where he is. I think that going through that first year, I know what that was like for me. I mean, he wound up in the same spot I did -- 8-8. The second year, you're more settled."

Blemished legacy or not, Gibbs said he doesn't regret his second go-round in Washington, coming back for four more years and three playoff games.

"In life, you get an opportunity you take it," he said. "It was important for me to come back. I felt like it was the right thing for me to do. I think it was the right time for me to leave. I took my best shot and went after it.

"The four games we won after Sean [Taylor] died was the most unbelievable coaching experience ever," he added. "How that team came together and got into the playoffs, man, just unbelievable."

When they spoke in the rain a few weeks ago, Zorn said he didn't make any cracks about following an icon. "No, but I know," he said.

"My hope is he sees my passion for this football team as well," Zorn said. "My hope is he sees it in good hands and he likes how it's run. I want him feel like it's run well, where he says: 'Hey that's good. That's good.' And those 'That's goods' get louder and louder, instead of 'Aw, sheesh.' He still cares about what we do."

One last thing: When the rains became heavy that day, Zorn recalled Gibbs coming over to make sure he and his son Isaac stayed dry.

"He handed me an umbrella," Zorn said of Gibbs, the man still very good at protecting others from a downpour.

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