Gibbs went over to the fans and thanked them and shook some hands before making his way into Redskins Park for, as he revealed during his media session, the first time (the facility where Gibbs often spent the night was about 10 miles away in Herndon).
When I went inside, I noticed that the three Lombardi Trophies that are usually in a case in the lobby were gone. I was relieved to see that they had been placed in front of the podium where Gibbs would soon be speaking.
There were, of course, the usual suspects from the media present in the jammed auditorium. John Keim and some other beat reporters were smart enough to arrive early and get some decent seats; others, like Mark Maske and the rest of the Post beat staff and myself, had to line up along the wall and crane our necks to look around TV cameras and lights to see the stage.
About 10 minutes before it got started, Darrell Green came in and chatted with a few media members before finding his way to his reserved seat. I then looked around and saw Charles Mann, Mark Moseley and Don Warren. More were to follow.
At 5:00, the room started buzzing as the local TV reporters launched into their intros for the press conference. I was situated next to the Fox 5 news crew. I don’t know who the anchor was, but Trevor Matich was the “color” man. When Snyder took the podium, the room got very quiet.
I’m assuming that most of you either saw or heard Gibbs’ comments, and they’ll be well covered elsewhere if you didn’t so I’m not going to go into them in great detail. A few things struck me, though:
--Gibbs seemed to be very, very happy to be there. From his comments, one could gather that his wife had been the one to say no to some of the more recent attempts to get him back into coaching. It appears that when Pat finally gave her OK, Joe felt like he’d hit the lottery. He was just as giddy as any Redskins fan around.
--He continually talked about the huge job he had ahead of him. He also said several times that the fact that one of the reasons he got back into it was because creating a winning NFL team is such an incredibly difficult thing to do. Make no mistake about it, the mild-mannered Gibbs is a fierce competitor.
--You might have seen the clip where Gibbs talked about money not coming up in his conversation with Snyder until the last five minutes. The funny thing was that question asked had nothing to do with money. It’s apparent that he wanted to get that out and, when the subject didn’t come up after about a half dozen questions.
--Gibbs was totally sincere and straight forward during the entire session, except when the question of when this whole deal started to come together came up. On a few occasions he said he couldn’t remember when he had initiated talks with the Redskins about coming back. It seems likely that there were very serious talks before Steve Spurrier went South and stayed there just a week before the news about the return of Gibbs started to spread.
I didn’t get to ask Gibbs a question. I tried to pipe in on a few occasions, but I was continually beaten to the punch.
After it ended, the Gibbs-era Skins started to appear out of the woodwork. In addition to those mentioned above, Gary Clark, Doc Walker, Raleigh McKenzie, Ken Coffey, Neal Olkewicz, Joe Jacoby, and Darryl Grant were there getting interviewed by the assembled press.
I walked around and got in on some interview sessions with Clark and Joe Bugel. As I was heading out, I bumped into a small group of reporters around Art Monk. I listened in to the session. After it broke up I passed by Monk, smiled, said hi, and stuck my hand out. He smiled back and said hi, we shook hands, and that was that.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.