The Washington Redskins announced today that Joe Gibbs will fill Steve Spurrier's vacated seat as head coach. Gibbs led the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories while serving as coach from 1981 to 1992. Gibbs then retired to pursue a career as a NASCAR car owner.
"The desire to coach has always been with me, even after being away from the game for 11 years," said Gibbs who signed a five-year contract.
Gibbs love of football had never completely exited; he retained a minority interest in the Altanta Falcons, one, which, he will reportedly have to divest when he returns to the Redskins organization. Although the particulars of the deal have not been revealed, the Redskins had budgeted $5 million a year as the head coaches salary.
Since Gibbs left the Redskins, they have made the playoffs just once, and suffered through ownership woes and personnel struggles.
The 63-year-old Gibbs owns one of the most successful NASCAR racing organizations. In his stable are the No. 20 Home Depot Chevy of Tony Stewart and the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevy of Bobby Labonte. Both drivers have taken their teams to a NASCAR Winston Cup championship.
"I'm very happy for him," said Tony Stewart, the 2002 NASCAR champ. "He's always been a coach, and football has always been very close to him. After working with Joe for a number of years, I know his commitment to winning is unmatched. Fans of the Redskins should be very happy."
Stewart and Labonte finished seventh and eighth in Winston Cup points in 2003, with earnings nearing the $3 million mark.
"I'm thrilled for Joe" said Bobby Labonte. "Donna and I think this is the coolest thing we've heard in a long time. The race team will be just fine, and all of us on the #18 team will work just as hard to win another championship in 2004 "
In addition to Gibbs Nextel Cup teams, he also supports the Busch series efforts of Coy Gibbs and Mike Bliss. Recently, Gibbs signed USAC star JJ Yeley to a development deal, wherein, he will compete in the stock car racing "trifecta" - running ARCA, Busch and Cup series events on a limited basis.
Gibbs son, J.D. is currently the President of Gibbs Racing, and is expected to take on a majority role as his father's attention will be taken away from the track, as the NFL season starts in September and lasts through the end of January.
The NASCAR schedule generally starts on or about February 6th (with the running of the Budweiser Shootout, the first of several events leading up to the Daytona 500) and runs through the middle of November.