Joe Gibbs

GibbsLeaving a Legacy  

   NFL Hall of Famed coach Joe Gibbs is one of the most successful men in sports. As the head coach for the Washington Redskins, he won three Super Bowls. After retiring, he bought a NASCAR team and they won three championships. Though he’s been a sports icon for more than 20 years, Coach Gibbs says the most important lesson he learned came when he was just a boy.

   “I can’t remember if it was in the third grade in school,” he tells The 700 Club. “I was being told that two amoebas happened to hit in a muddy puddle of water two billion years ago, and I was an accident.

I was the result. I wasn’t real smart, but I said, ‘I don’t like the sound of that.’ My mother and grandmother had me in church, and I was the kid that played in church. But the pastor was telling me something totally different, that there was a God. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. He made me special. He wanted to have a personal relationship with me.”


   As Joe grew up, sports became a big part of his life.

   “I had a basketball net that my dad put up outside. I went out there, dribbled all day long and wanted to play basketball. Then I’d go baseball, and then I’d go to football. I remember playing football in a plowed field. I grew up going from one thing to the next wanting to play something.”

   Joe played football all the way through college at San Diego State University. Though he wasn’t quite good enough for the pros, he got a chance to stay in the game when he worked as an assistant coach at his alma mater.

   “I wound up through a wild set of circumstances, getting into coaching. I went in and volunteered with Don Coryell, who was a big part of my past. A lot of people say that he was one of the greatest coaches ever. He was very good in high school, college and pro. Another member of that staff John Madden, and that’s where I started my coaching career. There were only five of us on the coaching staff, and I became a ‘gopher’ for John Madden.” 

   After two seasons in San Diego, Joe Gibbs spent the next few years as an assistant coach at some of the nation’s top college football programs. Later on, he became an assistant coach in the National Football League; thanks to his former boss, Don Coryell, who was coaching the St. Louis Cardinals at the time. After five years with Cardinals, Joe went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and developed the head coaching itch, but no one would hire him. 

  Being forty years old, and concerned, “I interviewed at several colleges; but was turned down.” Joe began to worry about his future and was in need of direction.

   “Through a wild set of circumstances, I was sitting in an airport terminal and totally discouraged; reached over and saw a Bible there. I picked it up, turned to James ‘because I was talking about making a decision in my life.’

    A young man about my age tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I claimed that chapter over my life six months ago.”  He relayed a struggle in his career very similar to mine and said, ‘I made a decision in my life, and I’m going to turn this over to the Lord. I’m going to quit trying to do this myself.’”

   With that message, Joe was off to the San Diego Chargers, where he reunited with Don Coryell and helped to devise one of the best offenses in NFL history. The Chargers became the first team to average more than four hundred yards per game. Soon, Joe Gibbs got the call he’d been waiting his entire career: to hear we were in the playoffs, but lost the game.

    Bobby Beathard called me late that night on the way home and said, “Hey, Mr. Cooke wants to talk to you.”

    I was on a high at that point about the meeting, and all of a sudden the conversation changed where he said, ‘If you take this job…’

   I kind of went, “Oh my gosh! I may get a chance to coach the Redskins.” I didn’t sleep for two nights after that.”

   In 1981, Joe Gibbs became the head coach of the Washington Redskins. As he looks back, he remembers that his first season was a bit shaky. “We started out the season 0-5. I told everybody that I felt like I was going to be the first guy to coach and never win; because I was going to get fired before we win.”  

   But the very next season, Coach Gibbs led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl victory, and the Gibbs dynasty was born. Over next 10 seasons, Coach Gibbs won three more NFC championships and two more Super Bowls. While success is great, he says it’s not what you take away that’s important, it’s what you leave behind.

   “The farther you go in life, the more you realize what you’re going to leave behind. It’s not going to be, ‘It was a great platform. It was great to win the Super Bowl,’ but really and truly what you’re going to leave on this earth is the influence on others.” Coach Gibbs remembers this lesson in his new book, ‘Game Plan for Life.’

   These days, you’ll find Joe on the speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing. But whether he’s on the football field, the raceway, or writing another book; you can be assured he’ll be sharing this message.

   “You and I are players, God’s our coach, and we’re playing the biggest game of all. We have a loving God that made us. We need to get on His team. It says in His word, there’s only one way to Him and that’s through Jesus Christ. Ask Him to be your Savior. What you find is there are really only two teams in the game of life. If you’re on God’s team, you can’t lose.”  

Joe Gibbs Hearing His Voice Testimony