American Football Wiki
Joe Gibbs
Gibbs in 2002
Personal Information
Born November 25 1940 (1940-11-25) (age 81) in Mocksville, North Carolina, U.S.
Career information
Year(s) 19812007
College San Diego State
Professional teams
Career stats
Coaching record 171-101-0
Winning percentage 62.9%
Total games 272
Stats at
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

  • 1x UPI NFL COY (NFC) (1982)
  • 2x Pro Football Weekly COY (1982, 1983)
  • 3x Sporting News COY (1982, 1983, 1991)
  • 2x AP Coach of the Year (1982, 1983)
  • 4x NFC Division Titles (1982, 1983, 1987, 1991)
  • 3x Super Bowls (XVII, XXII, XXVI)

Joe Jackson Gibbs (November 25, 1940) is a former American football coach, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two time NHRA Pro Stock team owner. He was the 20th and 26th head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins (1981–1992, 2004–2007). Well known for his long hours and work ethic, Gibbs constructed what Steve Sabol has called, "The most diverse dynasty in NFL history," building championship teams with many players who have had mediocre to average careers while playing for other NFL teams. During his first stint in the National Football League, he coached the Redskins for 12 seasons and led them to eight playoff appearances, four NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowl titles.

After retiring at the end of the 1992 season, he switched focus to his NASCAR team, Joe Gibbs Racing, which has won three championships under his ownership, one with former driver Bobby Labonte and two with Tony Stewart. On January 7, 2004, Gibbs came out of retirement to rejoin the Redskins as head coach and team president, signing a 5-year, $28.5 million contract.[1] On January 8, 2008, Gibbs resigned as Redskins' head coach and team president. Overall, during his 16 years with the team, Gibbs had only three losing seasons and led the team to 10 playoff appearances. He remains with the organization as "Special Advisor" to the team owner Daniel Snyder.[2]

Early career

Born in Enka, North Carolina, Joe graduated from Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Springs, California, in 1959 where he was the star quarterback. Gibbs attended Cerritos College and then San Diego State University (SDSU), coached by Don Coryell. Gibbs graduated from SDSU in 1964 and earned a master's degree in 1966.

Gibbs began his career with a stint as offensive line coach at San Diego State under Coryell (1964–1966). He held the same position at Florida State (1967–1968) before serving under John McKay at Southern California (1969–1970) and Frank Broyles at Arkansas (1971–1972). Gibbs then rose up to the National Football League, hired as the offensive backfield coach for the St. Louis Cardinals (1973–1977) by head coach Don Coryell. After a season as offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1978) under McKay, Gibbs rejoined Coryell with the San Diego Chargers (1979–1980).

As the offensive coordinator for San Diego, Gibbs spearheaded the highly successful "Air Coryell" offense. Using a sophisticated passing attack, the Chargers and quarterback Dan Fouts set multiple offensive records during Gibbs' two seasons there. Remarkably, the Chargers averaged more than 400 yards of offense per game during their 1980 season. After 17 years of coaching as an assistant, in 1981 Gibbs was offered a job as the head coach of the Washington Redskins by Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.[3]

First stint with Redskins (1981–1992)

After firing then-head coach Jack Pardee, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke was on the lookout for candidates. When general manager Bobby Beathard pointed out the forty-year-old San Diego assistant coach, Cooke saw potential in Gibbs and hired him.

Gibbs' first season with the Redskins started inauspiciously when the team lost their first five games. Cooke famously expressed confidence in Gibbs, declaring that the team would finish 8-8. The losses and Cooke's confidence served as a catalyst, and the newly-motivated team improved and reached an even 8-8 record in 1981.

Gibbs' second season with the Redskins (1982) realized the dreams of the entire Redskins fanbase: an NFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl victory. In a strike-shortened season, led by All-Pro QB Joe Theismann and the running of Pro Bowl FB John Riggins and HB Joe Washington, the team advanced through the playoffs and eventually won Super Bowl XVII by beating the Miami Dolphins 27–17, taking revenge for Washington's loss to Miami in Super Bowl VII.

The following season (1983), Gibbs' surprising success continued with a 14–2 regular season record and a win against the Los Angeles Rams 51–7 at home, in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Redskins then once again won an NFC Championship, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 24–21 on a last-second field goal (aided by a controversial pass interference call), advancing to Super Bowl XVIII. The Redskins were an overwhelming favorite going into the game, but were soundly defeated by the Los Angeles Raiders 38–9. Some call this Redskins team one of the better teams to not win the Super Bowl.

The 1984 Redskins won the NFC East with an 11–5 record and hosted a home playoff game against the Chicago Bears but lost 23–19.

Gibbs coached the 1985 Redskins to a 10–6 regular season record, but barely missed the playoffs. During the season Joe Theismann broke his leg during a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, but the Redskins still won the game with Jay Schroeder at quarterback.

In 1986, Gibbs coached the team to a 12–4 regular season record and defeated the Los Angeles Rams 19–7 in the wild card playoffs, then upset the defending champion Chicago Bears 27–13 in the divisional round, on the road, to get back to the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants. The Giants would win 17–0. It was to be Gibbs' only NFC championship game loss.

The 1987 Redskins made the playoffs and again defeated the Chicago Bears 21–17 on the road in the divisional round, then beat the Minnesota Vikings 17–10 at home in the NFC Championship Game, then at Super Bowl XXII, they rode on the arm of quarterback Doug Williams to blow out the Denver Broncos 42–10.

Four years later, the Redskins won their first 11 games before finishing the season 14–2, and cruised through the playoffs with home victories over the Atlanta Falcons (24–7) and Detroit Lions (41–10). In Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins were up 24–0 on the Buffalo Bills just sixteen seconds into the third quarter, and 37–10 with over eleven minutes to go when Gibbs pulled most of his starters. The Bills would score two cosmetic touchdowns for a final score of 37–24.[4] The victory gave Gibbs and the team their third Super Bowl title.

The following year, Gibbs returned for the 1992 regular season to attempt to defend the Redskins' Super Bowl crown from the previous year. The Redskins would finish with a lesser record at 9–7 and 3rd place in the NFC East. They needed a bit of help to make the playoffs and they got it after a loss by the Green Bay Packers allowed them into the playoffs as the last Wild Card entry. In the Wild Card round, the Redskins defeated the Minnesota Vikings on the road, by the score of 24–7, however they would fall in the Divisional Round to the San Francisco 49ers in a road game by the score of 20–13, ending the Redskins' hopes of retaining their Super Bowl crown. Two months after Super Bowl XXVII, Gibbs suddenly retired in early 1993, surprising many in the organization and around the league. A notorious workaholic, he had begun to suffer some health problems, and he cited a desire to spend more time with his family. From 1994 to 1997 Gibbs served as a color analyst on NBC Sports' NFL pregame show.

In 1996, Gibbs was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, at that time having a record of 124 wins and 60 losses, and a post-season record of 16 wins and five losses. His combined winning percentage of .683 was third all-time (behind Vince Lombardi and John Madden). In his 12 seasons, the Redskins won 4 NFC East titles, reached the playoffs 8 times, and finished with a losing record only one season (7–9 in 1988). Gibbs is also the only NFL coach to ever win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks and three different starting running backs.

Style of play

Although Gibbs helped craft a passing-oriented attack during his time in San Diego, his Redskins teams were known to incorporate a smash-mouth, rushing-oriented attack like the counter trey. By building a strong offensive line (known as "The Hogs") Gibbs was able to control the line of scrimmage, allowing workhorse running backs such as John Riggins, George Rogers, and Earnest Byner to power the ground game. Gibbs added a deep passing attack to this which complemented the ground game, utilizing agile receivers such as Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders. Gibbs' offense was aided during his tenure by aggressive defensive units under the direction of defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon.

Gibbs' system and offensive scheme were robust enough to be successful without a Hall-of-Fame-caliber quarterback at the helm. The Redskins' Super Bowl victories were won featuring Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien—capable players who were very successful along with their strong supporting cast.

Gibbs is credited with inventing the single back, double or triple tight end set. He used it to neutralize Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, realizing that to successfully block him with a running back was impossible; an extra tight end and a tackle were required as well. The extra tight end provided additional protection for the quarterback. Gibbs was also credited for creating the Trips formation; stacking three wide receivers to one side. Gibbs incorporated the shifting and motions for which his offenses were known. The formations created mismatches and confusion for the opposing defenses that would then be exploited. He is also one of few coaches that utilized the H-back position prominently in his offense.

NASCAR career (1992–present)

Gibbs created his NASCAR team, Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992, a year before he first retired from the NFL. The first driver for his team was Dale Jarrett (1992–1994), with the sponsor Interstate Batteries, and the number 18. His son, J. D. Gibbs, is now the president of Joe Gibbs Racing and oversees daily operations of each of the teams since his father's return to the NFL.

Interstate Batteries Car #18

  • Dale Jarrett (1992–1994)
  • Bobby Labonte (1995–2005)
  • J. J. Yeley (2006–2007)
  • Kyle Busch (2008–present) (Interstate Batteries is now a part time sponsor with M&M's)


Beginning in 1995, Gibbs fielded three cars in the NHRA, one, in each professional category:

  • the Funny Car, driven by Cruz Pedregon
  • the Top Fuel dragster, driven by Cory McClenethan
  • the Pro Stock Firebird, driven by Jim Yates

Yates would bring home an NHRA championship in 1996, followed by another in 1997. Mcdonald was the primary sponsor on all three cars.

NASCAR championships

  • 2000 - Bobby Labonte, #18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac, Winston Cup, now the Sprint Cup
  • 2002 - Tony Stewart, #20 Home Depot Pontiac, Winston Cup, now the Sprint Cup
  • 2005 - Tony Stewart, #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, NEXTEL Cup, now the Sprint Cup
  • 2007 - Joey Logano, #20 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil Chevrolet, Busch East Series, now the Camping World East Series
  • 2009 - Kyle Busch, #18 Z-Line Toyota, Nationwide Series


    • Sprint Cup
    • Nationwide Series
    • Camping World East Series
    • two Late Model racing teams.

Sprint Cup teams

  1. 20 Joey Logano
  1. 18 Kyle Busch
  1. 11 Denny Hamlin
  • a part-time #80 team with Jeff Fuller.

Nationwide Series teams

  1. 18 Kyle Busch (part time)
  1. 18 Michael McDowell (part time)
  1. 11 Brian Scott
  1. 20 Joey Logano (part time)
  1. 20 Denny Hamlin (part time)
  1. 20 Ryan Truex (part time)
  1. 18/#20 Drew Herring (part time).

Camping World East Series teams

  1. 18 Matt DiBenedetto


Three NASCAR Championships, starting in:

  • 2000-Bobby Labonte
  • 2002 and 2005-Tony Stewart.

Points race


  • Denny Hamlin, a rookie, won the Pocono 500 (his first win) and Pennsylvania 500, sweeping both NASCAR races at Pocono. Hamlin was also one of the 10 drivers qualified for the 10 race Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.
  • Hamlin would go on to finish 3rd in points in 2006.
  • Stewart, who did not make the Chase, finished 11th in points, winning three of the Chase races.


Gibbs continued to field three full time cars in the NEXTEL Cup, driven by:

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Tony Stewart
  • J.J. Yeley.

Aric Almirola made his NEXTEL Cup debut in the #80 Car in Las Vegas. In the Busch series, there are two cars, with driving duties split among Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Brad Coleman, Kevin Conway and Tony Stewart. As of August 2007, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin are both in the 2007 Chase, with Stewart winning at Chicago, Indianapolis and Watkins Glen and Hamlin winning at New Hampshire. The 2007 season ended with Stewart in 6th place, Hamlin in 12th and Yeley in 21st in the overall standings.

Second stint with Redskins (2004–2008)

File:Gibbs, Joe (USAF).JPG

Joe Gibbs

Throughout his retirement, many NFL owners approached Gibbs hoping to lure him out of retirement, but to no avail. Some owners even offered to move his entire NASCAR racing team to their team's city if he came back. The only team he seriously considered coming back for was the Carolina Panthers when they first joined the NFL as an expansion in 1995. However he did not believe he would be able to manage his time between his race team and coaching.[5] Even though he left the football world, the football world never left him. In 1999, he was part of a group that was trying to buy the Redskins but ultimately failed. In 2002, Gibbs and a small group of investors bought five percent of the Atlanta Falcons from owner Arthur Blank for $27 million.[1] It wasn't until late 2003 when Gibbs really started to catch the football fever again. Blank and his general manager, Rich McKay moved quickly to interview him for the Falcons's vacant head coaching position due to the firing of Dan Reeves. However when Gibbs found out that Steve Spurrier resigned as the Redskins' head coach, they realized that even though Gibbs was one of the team's minority owners, his loyalty still lies with the Redskins.[6]

It is well documented that Daniel Snyder had been turned down by Gibbs several times before. On December 31, 2003, Snyder's private plane (Redskin One) was spotted at an airport outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. After spending 11 years in retirement from the NFL, Snyder successfully lured Gibbs out of retirement. Gibbs' change of heart was quite a surprise to the football and NASCAR worlds. During his January 7 press conference, a visibly emotional Snyder welcomed him back. Gibbs then stated that even though he enjoyed NASCAR immensely, he had missed coaching in the NFL even more. And although he had fielded offers in the past, he could only see himself coaching for the Redskins.

Because of his credibility and a very resourceful owner, Gibbs was able to assemble one the largest and most experienced coaching staffs in the NFL. Many coaches from his previous tenure with the team returned with Gibbs as well, including offensive line coach/assistant head coach Joe Bugel, offensive coordinator Don Breaux, quarterbacks coach Jack Burns, and tight ends coach Rennie Simmons. Gibbs was able to lure former Buffalo Bills head coach Gregg Williams to join the Redskins to run the defense. Overall, many of his assistant and position coaches were either former head coaches and/or held top assistant coaching positions with other NFL teams.

Gibbs left his racing team in the hands of his eldest son, J.D., while his other son, Coy, joined him as an assistant with the Redskins.

2004 season

In 2004, Gibbs had what was, up to that point, the worst season of his career with a 6-10 finish. However, the team did finish the season on a high note with a 21-18 victory over playoff-bound Minnesota. The defense also finished the season ranked third in yards allowed.

2005 season

File:Joe Gibbs during Redskins training camp, August 2005.jpg

Gibbs coaching players during the 2005 training camp.

Hoping to improve on the previous season's dismal passing attack, Gibbs added former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as his quarterbacks coach. Having coached new Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell when they both were in Jacksonville, they easily formed a rapport. Musgrave's input allowed the Redskins add a few new wrinkles to their playbook. For the first time under Gibbs, the Redskins offense utilized the shotgun formation.

In the wild-card playoff game, Gibbs led his team to a 17–10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to whom the Redskins suffered a 36–35 defeat earlier in the year. In the next round of the playoffs, however, the Redskins could not duplicate their early-season victory over the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks, and lost to the eventual NFC Champion by the score of 20–10.

2006 season

During the 2006 off season, Gibbs hired Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator Al Saunders to be Associate Head Coach - Offense for the Redskins. Saunders came from a similar background as Gibbs, as both learned under Don Coryell. Saunders experienced great success at the helm of the Chiefs' offense and took over for Gibbs as the team's primary play-caller upon joining the Redskins. This allowed Gibbs to focus more on his role as Head Coach and CEO and devote more time to personnel matters, defense, and special teams. Gibbs also added former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to his staff as Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach. However, Gibbs did lose quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to the Atlanta Falcons over the summer of 2006.

The 2006 season was disappointing for Gibbs. The Redskins finished 5–11, the team's worst regular season record under Gibbs' leadership thus far, and placed near the bottom in the NFL in defense. On the bright side, though the '06 Redskins boasted the league's 4th best rushing offense despite losing starting tailback Clinton Portis to injury and saw continued improvement from young starter Jason Campbell, who capped off 2006 with a strong performance against the Giants, in which he posted a QB rating of 96.2.

2007 season

The Redskins qualified for the playoffs in 2007, for the second time in 3 years, following the completion of a 9–7 regular season. They advanced as the sixth-seeded team in the NFC, and were defeated by the NFC West Division champions Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The team suffered a notable tragedy when star safety Sean Taylor was murdered in his home the night after game eleven. Shot during a burglary attempt during the early hours of Monday, November 26, 2007, Taylor died the following day. Taylor's funeral was held on Monday, December 3, 2007, between games 12 against Buffalo (Sunday, December 2) and 13 against Chicago (Thursday, December 6).

The Redskins concluded the season with four straight victories. Prior to the run, the Skins were 5–7 and, in addition to suffering through the Taylor tragedy, the team had lost starting OG Randy Thomas, OT Jon Jansen, CB Carlos Rogers, OLB Rocky McIntosh, and QB Jason Campbell to injury. Despite all this, Gibbs led Washington to the playoffs. In what has been referred to as Gibbs' finest month of coaching ever,[7] many players credited Gibbs' will, leadership and inspiration to guide the team on their late season winning streak.

Second retirement

Gibbs retired as head coach and president effective January 8, 2008 after completing four years of his five year contract. His retirement came three days after a first round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which concluded the 2007–2008 season. The last game he coached at Fedex Field in Washington was on December 30, 2007; the Redskins had a key victory over the Dallas Cowboys to send Joe Gibbs and the Redskins to the playoffs. He will remain with the team as an adviser to team owner Daniel Snyder.[8] During Gibbs' four-year return to the Redskins, the team qualified for the playoffs twice. He was succeeded as head coach by Jim Zorn.

Starting the "classic" Redskins look

When Joe Gibbs was the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers under Don Coryell in 1979 & 1980, Coryell would have the Chargers wear white uniforms for home games in San Diego. So, during both of his stints as Washington's head coach, Gibbs started the tradition of having the Redskins wear white uniforms over burgundy pants for all their home games. The Redskins also sported white over burgundy on the road whenever the opposing home team decided to wear dark colored jerseys. This uniform combination is considered to be the team's "classic" look. His teams almost exclusively wore their burgundy uniforms over white pants for road games at Texas Stadium against their archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys, like the Redskins, primarily wore their white uniforms for their home games. The only time Washington wore the white over burgundy combo at a road game in Texas Stadium during Gibbs' tenure was in 2005. That year, the Redskins recorded a 14-13 victory over the Cowboys, who were wearing their blue throwback uniforms. However, in all of Gibbs' 16 seasons as coach of the Redskins, the team never wore the burgundy uniform combo at home.[9]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
WAS 1981 8 8 0 .500 4th in NFC East - - - -
WAS 1982 8 1 0 .889 1st in NFC 4 0 1.000 Super Bowl XVII Champions.
WAS 1983 14 2 0 .875 1st in NFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.
WAS 1984 12 4 0 .787 1st in NFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Chicago Bears in NFC Divisional Game.
WAS 1985 10 6 0 .625 3rd in NFC East - - - -
WAS 1986 12 4 0 .750 2nd in NFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to New York Giants in NFC Championship Game.
WAS 1987 11 4 0 .733 1st in NFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXII Champions.
WAS 1988 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC East - - - -
WAS 1989 10 6 0 .625 3rd in NFC East - - - -
WAS 1990 10 6 0 .625 3rd in NFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Division Game.
WAS 1991 14 2 0 .875 1st in NFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXVI Champions.
WAS 1992 9 7 0 .562 3rd in NFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Division Game.
WAS 2004 6 10 0 .375 4th in NFC East - - - -
WAS 2005 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Division Game.
WAS 2006 5 11 0 .312 4th in NFC East - - - -
WAS 2007 9 7 0 .534 3rd in NFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Wild Card Game.
Total 167 84 0 .700 17 7 .708

Personal life

Gibbs currently resides in Virginia with his wife Pat, but they live at their home in Charlotte, North Carolina during the NASCAR season. They have two sons, J.D. Gibbs and Coy Gibbs and eight grandchildren. J.D. Gibbs and wife Melissa have four sons: Jackson, Miller, Jason, and Taylor. Coy Gibbs and wife Heather have threee sons Ty, Case, Jet and daughter Elle. In January 2007, Gibbs revealed that Taylor was diagnosed with leukemia, adding that his grandson had undergone surgery and received chemotherapy treatments. Joe Gibbs is a devout Christian.[10]


On September 5, 2008, Gibbs addressed the 2008 Republican National Convention, during which he offered his support for John McCain and his hope that the McCain-Palin ticket would lead to a 'spiritual awakening' in the United States. Gibbs has long been open about his Christian faith, but notoriously reserved about articulating his political positions, because, as the old Washington joke goes, "The Redskins are the only thing that unites the town."[11] As one of the most sought after A-List figures in Washington social circles for over a quarter-century (and even being referred to as "the most popular man in Washington" by the Washington Post),[12] Gibbs admitted being uneasy addressing the convention, stating that it was "a little awkward to put on a partisan hat."[13]

Writing career

In 1992 Gibbs co-authored Joe Gibbs: Fourth and One,[14] and in 2003 he co-authored Racing to Win. The books resemble a business and life how-to book and motivational guide as he discusses his successes and mistakes in his career, offering the lessons he learned as tips to the readers. In 2009, Gibbs wrote the book Game Plan for Life which discusses his life in football and outside of the sports and key topics that are important to today's men and women.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gibbs' deal more lucrative than Spurrier's. (January 7, 2004).
  2. Gibbs cites pull of family obligations for retiring from Redskins. (January 8, 2008).
  3. "Gibbs Hired as Redskins Coach After Meeting With Cooke", Washington Post, January 13, 1981. 
  4. Super Bowl XXV. (Accessed September 15, 2010).
  5. Friend, Tom. "Dierdorf And Gibbs Lead Five Into Hall", New York Times, January 28, 1996. 
  6. Coach-GM carousel
  7. Battista, Judy. "Redskins' Gibbs Retires After a Trying Season", The New York Times, January 9, 2008. Retrieved on April 2, 2010. 
  8. Gibbs cites pull of family obligations for retiring from Redskins. (January 8, 2008).
  9. White at Home in the NFL. Uni
  10. "Gibbs's Grandson Has Leukemia", The Washington Post, January 24, 2007. Retrieved on April 2, 2010. 
  11. "Joe Gibbs: Redskins on the right path under Mike Shanahan", USA Today, March 18, 2010. Retrieved on May 6, 2010. 
  12. Carpenter, Les. "Redskins' Gibbs Resigns As Coach", The Washington Post, January 9, 2008. Retrieved on April 2, 2010. 
  13. Text and video: Joe Gibbs' speech at Republican convention,
  14. Library of Congress Online Catalog. Retrieved on 2008-02-12.
  15. Article Gibbs to write book Game of Life

External links