Another Championship and Beyond
By Richard Justice
Joe Gibbs was mad. Sputtering mad. Red-faced mad. Punch-the-wall mad. The subject was Philadelphia Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan, and the more Gibbs talked about him, the madder he got. The words came in angry bursts, as if Gibbs were ready to deck the questioner, as if he hoped that Ryan would feel the punch in Philadelphia.
"I live to play a game like this one," Gibbs said. "I live to play this guy."
It was the first week of 1991, and the Redskins were facing a playoff game against the Eagles. While the Redskins had missed the playoffs the two previous seasons, Gibbs had lost none of his magic, especially in motivating his team. To help get the Redskins ready for the Eagles, he had taunted his players, saying:
"If you lose this game, Buddy Ryan is going to call you a bunch of fat asses like he did last time. If you don't mind being called a bunch of fat asses, that's your business."
Now it was two days before kickoff. In the parking lot at Redskin Park, Gibbs' car was still covered with snow that had fallen four days earlier. He had arrived for work late Sunday night after a meaningless December 30 victory over Buffalo to end the regular season, had spent New Year's Eve there and still had not left. During a break in a late-night meeting with his coaches, he encountered a reporter he knew well, and he finally let loose with thoughts and emotions he had long been holding back from the public.
In fact, for three days Gibbs had stood grim-faced and silent as reporters peppered him with questions about Ryan and the Eagles.