On Wednesday, Washington Redskins legend Joe Gibbs was back at Redskins Park for the annual luncheon for his foundation, Youth For Tomorrow. Gibbs was joined by current head coach Mike Shanahan and former coaching fraternity brother and friend Mike Ditka.
When Gibbs first put on his signature burgundy Redskins snapback as the lead man in our Nation’s Capital, few knew who he was. Even Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke admitted that he wasn’t sure what Gibbs brought to the table.
After the Hall of Fame coach failed to get a victory in his first month with the Burgundy and Gold, questions about the offensive guru’s longevity were popping up left and right.
However, Gibbs put those questions to rest just one year later when he led the Redskins to their first of three Lombardi Trophies. Washington steamrolled through their regular season schedule with ease and missed a perfect record by two touchdowns.
Luckily for Ditka, he avoided Washington’s reign of dominance for the most part– well sort of.
Someone forgot to mention to him that Darrell Green was that good.
“Darrell Green [was] a thorn in our side for a long time” Ditka told Larry Michael on the set of Redskins Nation in reference to No. 28’s punt return for a touchdown in the 1987 playoffs.
Before each beloved icon decided to hang up their headsets (temporarily) in 1992, Ditka and Gibbs squared off against each other eight times, three of which were in the playoffs. Gibbs would ultimately get the better of Ditka more times than not (five wins to three), but in the end the two fierce competitors became friends away from the gridiron.
“Joe’s a dear friend, he could have taken it a little easier on me when he coached against me, but he had a win [and] we had to try to win.”
Since their heydays, the NFL has changed drastically to include a shifted focus on aerial attacks. Ditka, however, still believes in the importance of pounding the pigskin, a signature of the 1980’s.
“In the beginning maybe Joe wanted to do one thing but he didn’t have that so he pounded the football. He ran the ball and I think you don’t see that too much anymore, but I think that’s old time football. You can break down the other team’s will if you pound the football.”
You’re preaching to the choir, Ditka. After all, the Redskins can boast about having the top-rated rushing attack in the league.
While every hat should be tipped in honor of Alfred Morris‘ historic first season, everyone knows that Robert Griffin III was just as instrumental in vaulting the Redskins into the upper echelon of offensive units. That includes Ditka.
I love everything about the kid. I love his demeanor on the field. He’s got to be a little bit careful when he takes off. This guy’s the real deal. Throws the ball great, he’s a great field general. [He’s] got all the qualities you want.”
Hail to the Redskins!
Tags: Alfred Morris, Joe Gibbs, Mike Ditka, mike shanahan, Robert Griffin III
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