- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

They strode into the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the men who made Washington one of the NFL's epicenters in the 1980s and early 1990s. Art Monk, Gary Clark and Mark Rypien. Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic and Jim Lachey. Mark Moseley, Don Warren and Neal Olkewicz. Monte Coleman, Dave Butz and Raleigh McKenzie. And the still-active Darrell Green.
But as the Redskins opened a three-day celebration of their 70 greatest players and coaches with a charity dinner last night, there was no question that the spotlight was reserved for the man who brought all of the above players together and made them champions.
Joe Gibbs coached the Redskins to three Super Bowl titles and eight playoff appearances in his 12 years in Washington. It's no coincidence that the Redskins missed the playoffs in five of six years immediately before his arrival and have reached the postseason just once in the decade since he retired after the 1992 season.
"Joe's still the leader," Moseley said. "He's still our coach, and he always will be until we're all dead and gone. Joe just had a way of dealing with men. He was looking for character and integrity in his leaders. He treated us like men. There wasn't a lot of talk about it. You just knew he expected you to do your job to the best of your ability."
When Gibbs, who had never been a head coach before coming to Washington in 1981, started out 0-5, he thought he would never get a chance to become that Pro Football Hall of Fame leader.
"I told [wife] Pat that I was going to be the first coach to lose his job without winning a game," Gibbs said.
Offensive tackle George Starke, who bridged the gap between the 1970s playoff contenders of George Allen and the even more glorious Gibbs era, credited the latter for submerging his ego and the West Coast passing offense he knew as San Diego's coordinator in favor of a power attack built around burly runner John Riggins and a young, formidable line.
Olkewicz said going 0-5 helped forge the back-to-back Super Bowl trips that followed in 1982 and 1983 "because we stuck together through the adversity."
Said Gibbs: "Once we turned it around, no one ever wanted to go back to where we had been. Each of our championships was different because you went through them with different people. Each one was special. But you really don't appreciate how special a time it was until after it's over because you're so busy while it's happening."
Gibbs was an offensive innovator, but he pretty much let talented assistants Richie Petitbon and Wayne Sevier run the defense and special teams, respectively. And Gibbs didn't motivate players with fear like the immortal Vince Lombardi or match Allen's near-religious devotion to winning. Gibbs was more like a father setting an example to be followed.
"Joe taught me that you could be upfront and honest, that you didn't have to be cut-throat to succeed," Jacoby said.
Said Clark: "Joe's commitment to getting us prepared was unmatched. He was in the office almost 24-7. He was hardly ever home. I played for Don Shula [the NFLs winningest coach] and he was good, but he wasn't Joe. When we lost, it was never because of coaching."
That commitment also helped forge the overachieving Redskins of whom Riggins is still the only Hall of Famer into a close-knit group despite their myriad backgrounds and personalities. Riggins, Dexter Manley and Joe Theismann could co-exist on Gibbs' Redskins.
"We had a bond that was uncharacteristic," Jacoby said of the offensive line forever known as "The Hogs." "We loved each other. We talked on the field and had great times off the field. Hopefully, we can rekindle some of that this weekend."

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