Joe Gibbs, who coached two teams who won Super Bowls after work stoppages, warns that the present lockout of NFL players threatens the sport but thinks that both sides will reach an agreement before regular-season games are lost.
“There's too much at stake,” Gibbs said Tuesday in Columbia, S.C., where he was speaking with Broad River Correctional Facility inmates.
“They may miss a few preseason games, but I think they'll get this done because otherwise, I think it would hurt the sport.”
Gibbs, who turned 70 last November, mastered the art of turning work stoppages in the Redskins’ favor by planning carefully for them. From the New York Times’ Greg Bishop:
The Redskins held two common denominators during the strikes in 1982 and 1987: a strong core of veterans and Gibbs as the coach. [Former GM Charley] Casserly said Gibbs preached the same theme in both instances: forget the rhetoric, and concentrate on football and preparation.
The seeds for the Redskins’ strategy were sown during the 1974 work stoppage. [George] Starke said players worked out together in Georgetown then, where Coach George Allen would sneak over to supervise, or to hand out workout schedules.
With that in mind, the Redskins were built to withstand the 1982 strike. They played in a strong, pro-union area, and thus became a strong, pro-union team. They leaned on veterans like Starke, quarterback Joe Theismann and linebacker Monte Coleman, who said: “We weren’t all marquee players. So we had to band together.”
The ’82 strike lasted 57 days, from Sept. 21 to Nov. 16. The Redskins gathered in local parks, at high schools, anywhere with a grass field. They lacked helmets and pads, but they performed drills, like 7-on-7s, ran through plays and conducted workouts, basically the strike equivalent of normal. Coleman said they emerged from the strike rusty, but not as rusty as opponents.