Gibbs, Dexter, Riggo and bulletin boards
I only got see Joe Gibbs in action for four years, but that was enough to verify the age-old Gibbsologist postulate: that every team the Redskins were about to face could have run roughshod over a team consisting of 11 700-pound frothing Spanish bulls. Without getting gored once.
Now, I've never understood exactly how important the bulletin board was, and whether it could actually turn a win into a loss, and vice versa. And John Riggins apparently shares some of my doubts. Gibbs does not. Thus, this dialog from Gibbs's recent appearance on The John Riggins Show on WTOP 103.5 HD-3. If you liked the '80s-era Redskins, it's worth a chuckle or two.
Riggins: "Do you remember Joe when we were playing Dallas, and I forget which year it was, but Dexter and I both had come out, and of course they asked us a few questions. And I forget what we said, but of course we were a little bit more bombastic than we should have been. But do you remember you started a meeting off with 'You know now we're not gonna be talking to the papers and telling them how great we are and how we're gonna beat Dallas and all this. And there's a couple of guys in here, and you know who you are....' Does that sound familiar?"
Gibbs: "The one I remember the best, I said look we're going low profile here for the game in Dallas. It was a huge deal for us. And I get on the bus, and you guys are all dressed in fatigues. I turned around and went WHAT IS THIS? And you guys all get off the bus down there and you're wearing fatigues, kind of like in your face, Dallas! And I'm going, we're gonna get killed. And of course, we went out and just played our living guts out, and it was one of our big victories there. I remember a lot of those things that probably you guys think I missed."
Riggins: "I've got a legitimate question for you here....Myself, I never have gotten the angle, why coaches are so nervous about that Joe. Enlighten me a little bit, because as a player a guy who's gonna be out there on the field, if somebody says something, you might think about it a little bit during the week, but once that ball is snapped, it's gone. Particularly from an offensive player's viewpoint, I ain't got time to think about that stuff. You've got to call a play, you've got to know what you're gonna do, and then the ball's snapped and it's all reaction. I've never really understood why it's like we've got to reel this back in a little bit?"
Gibbs: "Well, it absolutely drove me crazy, and I thought it was a big deal, for this reason. If you say something and they put it on the bulletin board, to me, what you're kind of doing is saying to the other team, 'Hey, we don't think as much of you.' And what you're gonna do, those great competitors, you're gonna get their best effort. And what you'd like to do as a coach is let the sleeping dog lie. Hey, if they're not looking at us as being that important, let it lie.
"I'll give you an example. If you remember this, Montana had had the back surgery, and we were playing them here, and Dexter came out in the paper and said I'm gonna ring his clock! I don't know if you remember this or not. So I'm standing on the sideline...and the first play, they lined up the tight end all the way on the sideline, he went in motion 20 yards and ear-holed Dexter. Then the next play they had the tight end stand up in front of him and the tackle cut him.
"So when he came to the sideline, I was standing there and I went there you go. Of course, Dexter, he wound up playing his guts out, but I've got to tell you, I was always paranoid about that. I know you guys, it probably didn't register with you, but it did with me."
Riggins then asked about the differences between players from the '80s and from the modern NFL, and while Gibbs said many things about the game have changed, he said the players themselves happened. People are people.
"I think everybody on the team has a different hot button," Gibbs said. "If you're good at working with people, you realize everybody is a little different on the team, and you've got to know what hot buttons to hit. As an example, John never really wanted to talk to me much.....He stayed very far away from me. He talked to Bugel and Breaux. But that's the way John dealt with things.
"I'll tell you one little story, I'm in a meeting, and so I got all revved up for one of our games and I was yelling. I gave it my best shot in the meeting, and I even pounded my hand on a glass deal up front, broke it, all this kind of stuff. And so the guys all go out to practice, so I got out there and John waves me over with his finger when we're stretching. So I kind of walked over there and I didn't know what you were gonna say, I was kind of uptight and everything. You looked at me and you went, you made the hair stand up on the back of my neck with that one.
"I started laughing, I laughed and I walked away. And I said, 'Man, I thought I got them all in the right mood, and here John's screwing around.'
"Ok, now two or three weeks later, this rarely ever happened in our meeting, John stood up in the back of our meeting when I was talking about something, and he said, 'Hey, I've got something to say about this game.' I think we were playing Dallas, and you kind of gave a little pep talk there to the game, which I was fine with. I was kind of shocked that you stood up. So we go out to practice, and we're out there stretching, and I went over to John and I tapped him on the shoulder pad. And he turned around and looked at me, and I went, You made the hair stand up on the back of my neck with that one."
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