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His last year with NBC was 1997, when the network lost the rights.

“I had just redone my second contract, and I was set for another three or four years, and I got a call from [then-NBC Sports president] Dick Ebersol,” Gibbs said. “He said, ‘Sorry, Coach, we just lost football.’ I said, ‘Nobody loses football.’ He said, ‘We did.’ I said, ‘Am I out of a job?’ He said, ‘You got that right.’ ”

NBC got back into the game in 2006 with “Sunday Night Football.” Gibbs, meanwhile, built up his NASCAR team and came back to coach the Redskins in 2004 before retiring for a second time after the 2007 season. He got a telephone call from NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer “just out of nowhere,” he said. “I told him I really appreciated the call and I’d love to do it. I didn’t even think about it.”

Theismann said his agent told him NBC wanted him in the booth for a playoff game, but he did not learn about Gibbs until the next day.

“It was a huge surprise,” he said. “I’m excited. All those years I had to sit in meetings and I couldn’t say anything or he wouldn’t listen to what I’m saying. And now he’s forced to. Three hours with me, and he can’t tell me to shut up.”