“This is one of the most fun things and most creative things I’ve ever been a part of,” Gibbs, 77, recently told The Post. “I’m committed to it and I’m going to spend time on it. To me, it’s a big deal.”
Gibbs’s relationship with Strayer goes back nearly a decade. In 2010, three years after retiring from coaching in the NFL a second time, he partnered with the for-profit college to offer a free financial seminar for Redskins players. His new business program will be offered as both a five-course concentration for Strayer’s undergraduate bachelor in business administration degree and a three-course graduate certificate. The online courses will draw upon lessons from Gibbs’s career and feature video vignettes. Gibbs said he plans to hold virtual office hours, making himself available monthly for students to call and talk to him. Enrollment for the program is open now and classes begin on April 2.
The first of five courses in the undergraduate degree program concentration, which run $1,450 per course, focuses on passion and purpose, two of Gibbs’s favorite words. There was a time when Gibbs’s passion was playing football and his purpose was to make a lot of money. He couldn’t accomplish the latter by doing the former because, as the former high school quarterback put it, “I looked down at my body and realized that ain’t going to happen.” Gibbs envisioned becoming a scientist or engineer, but he botched the math portion of his college entrance examination and wound up in a remedial math class at San Diego State, where he also played football. Gibbs eventually changed his major to physical education.
Gibbs loved team sports, so he volunteered on the coaching staff at San Diego State under head coach Don Coryell in 1964. It was the start of a coaching journey that would eventually lead him to Washington as the coach of the Redskins in 1981. Along the way, Gibbs made stops at Florida State under Bill Peterson (“a workaholic,” Gibbs said), Southern California under John McKay (“sharp, quick-witted, he put the fear in you”) and Arkansas under Frank Broyles (“one of the greatest salesman that’s ever been in sports or business”) before landing a job under Coryell, again, as the offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers in 1979. Gibbs chose Coryell to present him when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
“Coach Coryell was totally different from those other three guys,” Gibbs said. “He was total passion. He got ready to coach as if he were going to play the game, and he could portray that to his team. The No. 1 thing when you start working with teams, the collective team is going to figure you out. They’re going to know if you’re faking something, if you’re not telling the truth, or not being yourself. I really feel like your leadership style, you kind of have to be yourself.”
Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks while being himself during his first 16 seasons with the Redskins. He founded Joe Gibbs Racing in 1991, the year before he retired from the NFL for the first time, and has won four NASCAR Cup series championships as team owner. Through his partnership with Strayer, Gibbs hopes to impart some of the wisdom he’s gathered throughout his career as a team-builder spanning two sports.
“None of this came from a book or a study of some kind,” Gibbs said. “This is on-the-job training after 35 years of trying to build teams. I’m thrilled that this is going to give me a chance to kind of lay out every thing I spent my life trying to do.”
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