Finally, on the morning of April 6, 1997, the Redskins would suffer their most devastating blow when team owner Jack Kent Cooke, who had bankrolled three Super Bowl champions and eight playoff teams, died of a heart attack.
Things can change so fast in sports that almost everything seems temporary. That was a lesson the Redskins of the 1990s learned the hard way.
The team already was in a period of slight transition as the decade began. This was not only because Doug Williams, Dave Butz, Dexter Manley, Rich Milot, Vernon Dean or Clint Didier were gone or because Bobby Beathard had resigned. Even Gibbs had changed in some surprising ways.
In a sharp departure, he had abandoned the power running game and was set to open the 1990 season with the three-wide-receiver offense that had helped win the final five games the previous year. At the time, his decision made sense. The Redskins had a rapidly improving young quarterback in Rypien and three of the league's best receivers in Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.
But after the Body Bag Game, stuck at 5-4 and seemingly going nowhere, Gibbs, as he had so many times in the past, returned to core beliefs. The Redskins, for one thing, would go back to short, fierce practices.