Gibbs, thriving in 11th season, defies coaching burnout theory

PRO FOOTBALL

December 08, 1991|By VITO STELLINO

Remember the coaching burnout theory?

Dick Vermeil, who walked away from the Philadelphia Eagles coaching job after the 1982 season, virtually invented the syndrome, and Al Davis, the Los Angeles Raiders czar, was quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Davis likes to say that it's difficult for a coach to last longer than a decade these days in the pressure-cooker job.

Maybe it's time for Davis to take a long look at Joe Gibbs.

The coach of the Washington Redskins shows no signs of burnout. Eleven years into the job at age 51, his competitive fires burn as brightly as ever.

Just look at his performance last week at halftime in Anaheim, Calif. His team was 11-1, leading the Los Angeles Rams, 7-6, and he had a chair-throwing tirade.

Sure, the team was lethargic, but the players had a seven-hour, cross-country flight the night before and were playing just well enough to stay ahead of a team they knew they could beat.

That wasn't up to Gibbs' standards, and he let them know it. The result was a 27-6 victory.

After the game, he brushed it off by saying it wasn't up to the standards of the halftime tirade he had in Philadelphia five years ago, when he lost his breath while clearing a table of a bunch of oranges.

Joe Bugel, his former assistant coach who'll be across the field today in Phoenix, remembers that tirade.

"I mean, his veins were popping out. He went down for the count. He had to take an eight. That was scary," he said.

After the Redskins had wrapped up the victory over the Rams and the division title, NFL Films had a cameraman in the locker room recording the scene.

After shaking hands with the players as they entered the locker room, he shouted, "Hey, next week now, next week, home field, huh, next week home field."

He then said twice, "Good job, men."

But before he saluted them for a good job, he reminded them of the next goal: getting one more win to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That little speech shows how Gibbs always is looking ahead.

Of course, selling a game against sad-sack Phoenix is a tough job, but Gibbs always comes up with something. He reminded the players this week that the Cardinals upset Dallas coming off a bye week last year. It's coming off a bye week today.

Assuming the Redskins do win today, they'd have nothing at stake in their final two games, against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

It'll be interesting to see if he plays Mark Rypien all the way in

those two games despite the risk of injury. Don't be surprised if he does, especially against two division foes. The message Gibbs will then be selling is pride.

It shows why Gibbs is in no danger of burning out. He always wants the next one.

*

In Anaheim, Calif., last week there were signs pleading for Georgia Frontiere to sell the Rams. In Indianapolis last week, there were so many Cleveland fans at the Hoosier Dome that it seemed like a Browns home game. In New York this week, Baltimore, St. Louis and Oakland will be among the cities making pitches for expansion teams.

Those three events don't seem to be related, but there is a thread running through all of them: They're the legacy of the late owner of the Baltimore Colts and Rams, Carroll Rosenbloom.

More than a decade after he drowned, Rosenbloom still casts a long shadow over the NFL.

It was Rosenbloom who traded the Colts for the Rams with Bob Irsay in 1972. It was Rosenbloom who moved the Rams from the Los Angeles Coliseum to Anaheim, leaving the Coliseum empty and setting the stage for the Raiders' bitter court battle and move. That court battle delayed expansion all during the 1980s. Once Davis pulled off his move, it opened the doors for the Colts and Cardinals to follow.

If it hadn't been for Rosenbloom, it's likely the Colts would be in Baltimore, the Cardinals would be in St. Louis, the Raiders would be in Oakland, the Rams would be at the L.A. Coliseum and the league probably would have expanded to Indianapolis and Phoenix in the mid-1980s.

Instead, Baltimore, St. Louis and Oakland will be among the nine or 10 (it's uncertain whether Raleigh-Durham, N.C., will make an appearance) cities scheduled to make presentations in New York this week.

Each city will be allowed a five-member delegation, except Baltimore, which will be allowed nine people because it has three ownership groups. Baltimore will have a three-man civic delegation, including Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority; Matt DeVito, chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee; and Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the stadium authority.

The three men leading the ownership groups, Malcolm Glazer, Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and Tom Clancy, will be on hand, and each will be allowed to bring one colleague, although Clancy said he may go it alone. Glazer will be accompanied by his son Bryan and Weinglass by Mike Sullivan, president of Merry-Go-Round, a nationwide chain of clothing stores.

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