Joe Gibbs Enshrinement speech

Joe Gibbs Enshrinement Speech 1996

Presenter: Don Coryell

Well you know, I was all fired up to come up here and say something really, really good about Joe. But doggone it, after 40 minutes of listening to Dan, I forgot. But I just want to say that I am just extremely honored and pleased to present Joe Gibbs. I am very proud that such a good friend for over 25 years, and I'm so glad that he has achieved such great success.

In just 12 years as a pro coach, a pro head coach, as you know he won three Super Bowls, four division championships, but also three Coach of the Year honors, which I think is also very, very important. And he developed and made famous a diverse and flexible, yet very, very powerful, offense. Other teams copied his creative ideas and built their offenses around his ideas, many of them have. During Joe's playing days at San Diego State, he had the same characteristics that he had as a coach. He was intelligent, versatile, feisty, hard-nosed. He played guard, tight end, linebacker, and he could adjust to any change or situation.

Now as a grad assistant, he coached the linebackers and he played against our varsity in the spring game. And he made tackles all over the field, and he was such an inspiration to those old guys, they darn near beat us. So, I knew at that time I just couldn't let this guy go. He was just too good. And so, I hired him as our offensive line coach, and all of his linemen that year were new recruits. So, with the rookie line coach and the rookie line, we were rated the No. 1 division college team in the country, which shows a great deal for Joe's great abilities.

And we were throwing the ball then. All of a sudden Joe was not a secret anymore. Florida State hired him. Then USC. Then Arkansas. And then finally I got him back at St. Louis. Joe helped us win two division championships in a very, extremely tough division -- and it was, believe me, fellows.

At San Diego, I hired Joe from Tampa Bay as our offensive coordinator. Both years that Joe coached at San Diego, we won division championships. Then Joe marched off to Washington, and in 12 seasons he became one of the very best and most successful coaches in the country.

Football occupied his time, but his family was more important. Joe married his very beautiful and vivacious girlfriend from high school. They have two sons, J.D. and Coy, who have distinguished themselves in many ways. J.D. was a quarterback at William and Mary. Coy was a linebacker at Stanford. Joe is also dedicated to helping young men help themselves. His program Youth for Tomorrow is an example of his concern for other people. Joe was a tenacious, fiercely competitive and very skilled athlete. Not many people know that he was the National Racquetball Champion. He held that championship, No. 1.

What I admire about Joe is his personal characteristics. Although he is ambitious, he does not have ego problems. He is completely honest and very, very loyal. Joe is one of the most honorable men that I have ever known. I am deeply honored to present Joe Gibbs for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Joe just him but thank me told me that I did great and that is what I always told I did it because I skipped a whole page which you all can for.

Joe Gibbs

I just want everybody to know that I just got introduced by one of the greatest coaches of all time. And if you want to ask, just take a look at this stage right now. Charlie will testify to that, Dan will, Jim Hanifan, and so will I. Don Coryell was one of the greatest coaches of all time. Thank you, Don.

For the last six months, I've been asking my self something: "How did I get into the Hall of Fame?" And I tell ya, and the fans say it is all because of them. I think I have discovered the answer to that. And I want to kind of share it with you. As we look down through history, we find out that God at certain points picks very average men and women. And what He does, He gives them a life, gives them some talent, surrounds them with great people, guides them to some achievement. And I trace some of the highlights that I am going to share with you for the next few minutes, and as I say thanks to some of those people that were a great part of my life.

I figured out that I am one of those average people God looked down and touched. The first thing He did for me was give me a great family. My mother is here today. About three months ago, we were worried, I wasn't sure if Mom was going to make it. It is one of the great thrills of my life to have my mom here. I want to say to my morn, thank you for all the times that you and Dad sacrificed for me and Jim. Thank you, Mom. We lost my dad about five years ago, but you know God tells us in his word, that those that have gone on before us, He says that are in heaven cheering us on, and I got to tell you that my dad, my Uncle Walter, other good friends of mine, I know where they are in heaven cheering us on, and I think they got a great opportunity to look down on all this going on today. Thanks, Dad.

The lord also blessed me with a great brother, Jim, and I want to thank him for all the love. Aunt Louise and Uncle Walter: Anytime I wanted some money to go buy a hot rod or I wanted to take some friend to eat, Aunt Louise and Uncle Walter were there. That family loved me, they encouraged me and they disciplined me.

So, as I took off in life, I learned that I loved to play games. And I loved to win. And I discovered that life was a game. And let me tell ya, it’s the greatest game of all time. I know, like you guys, that I wanted to win. As I made my travels along, as I started to have my dreams, as I started to grow up, God put a special person in my life, and that was Pat, my high school sweetheart. And Pat and I made the same discovery in life, and we decided that we wanted to play the game of life together. Any of you that knows my family, we took a vote. And we voted Pat the captain of our family. I play on her team. It’s one of the greatest teams that God could put together. We decided that Pat would run the home and I would coach. I'll tell you I think Pat got the short end of that stick. I can't tell you how many hours, how many days, how many months Pat has stored up waiting outside those locker rooms. Pat, I feel sorry for you on that.

As we moved around the country coaching, we coached under Don Coryell at San Diego State and the Cardinals. We coached under John McKay at USC, Bill Peterson at Florida State and Frank Broyles at the University of Arkansas. I learned a lot from all those guys. As we moved and coached, all of the sudden there were a couple of additions to our team. That was J.D. and Coy. The best way I kind of describe this is that Pat and I changed our priorities. It kind of goes with this little story. In 1983, we had one of the greatest football teams I think has ever been put together. Everybody remembers that. We had just won a big game at RFK, and I can remember that I woke up the next morning we were going down to play Dallas for the division championship. I got up that morning strutting around thinking how great I was. Isn't it amazing how God gives us great wives to put us in our place? About halfway through that morning Pat said to me, "Do you mind picking up your socks and bathrobe?" I thought, "The nerve of her talking to such an important man that way." As the morning went along, she started sharing some things about Coy and J.D., and again I thought, "Why would she be bothering me when she knows I have such an important week coming up? Why would she be bothering me about these problems with J.D. and Coy?" So, I kind of stormed out of the house, slammed the door, and as I climbed in the car, I have always made a promise that I would pray on the way to work. As I prayed on the way to work that morning, I made a discovery. When I got to work, I called Pat, and this is what I told her: "Pat, what you are taking care of at home is more important than what I am taking care of at work. The football games and the Super Bowls and all the fun we had, the fans, and everything are some of the greatest memories anybody can ever have. But Pat and I came to the conclusion the greatest thing we will ever leave on this Earth is our two boys.

So, I say, thanks to you guys. We are going to invest everything we can in J.D. and Coy.

Now we had another great fortune. That was that J.D. was smart enough to pick out our first girl to enter the family, and that is Melissa. Now we finally got our team together, and as soon as Coy solidifies his choice, we are going to have our whole team together to play the rest of the way. Again, God leads me to the point to where of all things, I get a chance to take on another family, and that is the Washington Redskins.

I have a lot of thanks to say there. First of all, to Bobby Beathard. Can you imagine going into Jack Cooke and recommending that they hire Joe Gibbs? I can hear Mr. Cooke now. "Joe who?" Bobby, thanks for having the guts to do that, and thanks for picking all those players and making it easy for me. To Mr. Cooke: I want to tell you I worked for one of the greatest owners in NFL history. Reason why is this: He had a burning desire to win. If I told Mr. Cooke this was important to our football team, he made sure I got it and would shake that finger at me and say, "You better be right." The other thing about Mr. Cooke was that he was at his best when things were tough. He was a tough guy. The other thing I liked about him was that he had lots of money. And he gave some of that money so I could go out and hire the best coaching staffs in the NFL. I believe that we had that. I won't mention any names, Wayne. I don't think it would be a good idea because I would leave somebody out. I think we had one of the greatest coaching staff.

And I need to apologize for one thing: That is me taking credit for all those great ideas that you came up with. We had late nights at Redskins Park. We had the most fun of any coaching staff. We'd sit around until 2-3 o'clock in the morning. We had fun; we agonized over those game plans. We had some of the greatest players, but that coaching staff was bound together. Very few of those guys ever left. We stayed together for 12 years, and what a journey we had. And we all look back now and know what a great time we had.

I have to say thanks to all the players. Some of those guys are out here in the audience. One the favorite questions that people ask me is who was the greatest player that you ever coached? And every time they say that, I say that I can't list the greatest player I ever coached. There is too many of them. If I started to list the players, it would go something like this: Reggie Branch, Pete Cronin, Ottis Wonsell. And those guys would all say who’s that? Those guys were not some of the heralded guys, those were some of the special teamers. I know Joe Jacoby and some of those guys out there will agree with me. Some of the greatest players on our football team were free agents. They were guys that gave their guts and covered those kickoffs and made all the rest of us look good. To all those players out there: I want to say a great big thanks to all of you. It was a ball. I guess I took a lot of pride in the fact that I had a part in picking you.

In the meeting yesterday, Dan was talking with the other coaches and enshrines that are already in and Coach Landry made a great comment in that meeting. He stood up and he said, "I really didn't think it was very important for me to get into the Football Hall of Fame, but I did think it was important for all my players." I want to echo that. I'm not sure if it is the right thing to put me in here, I'm not going to give it back, but I will say that I am hoping that a lot of my players out there, a lot of you guys, the coaching staff that picked those players, I'm hoping there are a lot of Redskins that get to stand right up here where I am.

Next in the Redskin family, I gotta say a big thank you to all the RFK fans. No matter where you play or who you play for, when you walk out in that stadium, it is one of the greatest feelings in pro sports. I want to say a great thanks to all of you for that atmosphere. Yeah, it was a crummy stadium. We had crud hanging off it. The fans are right on top of everybody. When people came in there it was hard to beat us. All the memories I took from there, I want to say thank you to those fans, because in my heart I believe you are the greatest fans of all pro sports. You made that atmosphere what it was, you were the ones who prompted these players to play the way that they played. So, I want to say a big thanks to every single fan that was out there pulling for us. It was your stadium, it was your place, and part of what is going on here today belongs to you.

I also have a big thanks to say to our front office at RFK. People like Charlie Casserly, who took over for Bobby Beathard and kept picking those great players. John Cooke, who tried to help me work through all the problems and everybody else who worked at the stadium to make RFK and the Redskins what they are. Everybody in that front office, a big thanks.

And that takes me down to one of greatest groups that I would like to say a big thank you to and that is all my friends. Life is relationships. The greatest things in life is taking all the fun things all of us, a lot of you are fans, a lot are personal friends and all of you came here to support this. When I walked into some of those rooms last night and when I look out here and see some of you friends, I realize how fortunate I have been. I just wanted to say thanks to all you fans. Thanks to everybody in football and everybody that came close to me and Pat. I want to say thanks to all of you. And I want to say thanks to all my new buddies in racing. I have a new group of friends over there.

Now if you take a look at my life and wonder how I ended up standing here I think we all have to say that anyone who knows me knows that it is a bonafide miracle. There is only one person as far as I am concerned that could have orchestrated this, and that is my Lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ. So, I want to say a big thanks. I want to say to everybody here: Thanks to everyone. And particularly the ones I didn't get to mention. I had one of the world's greatest 30 jobs. I want to say thanks to all of you for that. I think I am one of the most blessed guys in the world. And one of the final notes I took this morning and I am going to share with you is that I realized that I have five families. I have been blessed to be in five different families. I am in God's spiritual family. I want to thank him for that and the gift of his son, Jesus Christ. I have an earthly family. My mother, my dad, and my brother. I have my family that Pat and I have put together. Pat, J.D., Coy, and now Melissa. I have a Redskin family. That I will always be a part of, and I now have a Hall of Fame family. Guys, I want to thank you for paving the way. I am thrilled to be in. It’s one of the greatest experiences. I want to say thanks to everybody because I got everything.

Thank you very much.