Gibbs' deal more lucrative than Spurrier's

ASHBURN, Va. -- In a stunning move, Joe Gibbs will return as
coach of the Washington Redskins, a team he led to three Super Bowl titles.

Gibbs will sign a five-year contract worth $28.5 million, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports, making him the NFL's highest-paid coach. He also will have the title of president, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Wed, January 7

The Redskins players, owner and organization as a whole just received a blessing with the hiring of Joe Gibbs. Owner Daniel Snyder is ecstatic because of Gibbs' organizational skills, leadership ability and the fact that Snyder can just sit back and own the team. He doesn't have to try to save a sinking ship anymore.

The players should be overjoyed because they are getting a coach who will respect them as long as they respect him and themselves. When I played for him, I used to call the team: characters with character. Coach Gibbs would treat us like men and expected us to act like men, yet he still allowed us to have fun. On Fridays, during the season, we would have barbecues and on Saturdays we'd have volleyball games before our special teams meetings. He put the onus on us to handle our position as football players and we appreciated it.

Coach Gibbs brings a couple of things to the Redskins. One, he gives the organization direction and discipline after it has only made the playoffs once since his departure 11 seasons ago. Second, he has the great ability to lead. But the essence of Joe Gibbs is what he does on Sundays. He's a great game day coach who does a wonderful job preparing his teams and adjusting at halftime. This is a great hire for the Washington Redskins.

"The desire to coach has always been with me, even after being
away from the game for 11 years," Gibbs said in an announcement on
the Joe Gibbs Racing Web site.

"The Redskins are very dear to me and my family. We're very excited about this opportunity to return to where we have so many friends and loyalties."

Vinny Cerrato will remain as vice president of football operations, but Gibbs will have final say on which players make his roster. However, draft choices, trades and signings will be decided in a three-person consensus format among Gibbs, Cerrato and owner Daniel Snyder, sources told Mortensen.

Spurrier quit last week with three years left on his contract
after two losing seasons. Under Spurrier, the Redskins went 7-9,
then 5-11.

"Joe Gibbs helped define what the Washington Redskins stand for
-- integrity, hard work, determination, winning and championships," Snyder said. "Who better to set our strategy and lead
the Redskins back to championship glory?"

Gibbs will be introduced at a news conference Thursday, but he
already has his first two hires in place. Former Buffalo Bills coach Gregg Williams will be defensive
coordinator, and Joe Bugel -- offensive line coach during much of
Gibbs' first stint in Washington -- will return to that post.

The Redskins made the playoffs during eight of Gibbs' 12
seasons, and his .683 winning percentage ranks third in NFL
history. His record was 124-60 in the regular season and 16-5 in
the playoffs, including Super Bowl victories after the 1982, 1987
and 1991 seasons -- each with a different quarterback.

Since Gibbs retired after the 1992 season, the Redskins' five
coaches went a combined 74-101-1.

Burned out from long days and nights in the NFL -- he was known
as a workaholic who sometimes slept on a cot at Redskins Park --
Gibbs left football and has been running a successful NASCAR racing

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and over
the years has said he didn't want to return to coaching, although
he has retained NFL connections. He was involved with a group that
attempted to purchase the Redskins after owner Jack Kent Cooke's
death in the late 1990s, and he and two partners bought a combined
5 percent of the Atlanta Falcons for $27 million in 2002.

The Redskins have budgeted $5 million a year for a coach, the
amount they were paying Spurrier. Gibbs has to give up his
ownership stake in the Falcons to take the Redskins' job.

Falcons said Gibbs approached them several weeks ago and talked about their vacant coaching job.

"When the opportunity at the Redskins came up, Joe told us he
couldn't turn his back on the history, fans, loyalties and
relationships built over time in Washington," the Falcons'
statement said. "While we understand his feelings, we are
disappointed that he didn't continue his talks with us."

The mere mention of Gibbs' name brings instant credibility among
the players, who had become disenchanted with the losing
atmosphere. Even though most have never met Gibbs, his legacy left
a long shadow.

"You can just walk through this building and look at those
Super Bowl trophies, and that will tell you enough about him -- even
if you were too young to watch the guy coach," tackle Chris
Samuels said.

The Redskins have made the playoffs only once since Gibbs
retired, suffering through a decade of losing despite aggressive
ownership moves.

Snyder has become the master of the big offseason splash since
buying the team in 1999, signing star players such as Deion Sanders
and Bruce Smith and coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Spurrier.

None of it translated to success on the field, however. The
Redskins have had four consecutive nonwinning seasons.

Gibbs, 63, will find today's NFL different from the one in which
he coached. He led the Redskins during the last years before free
agency and kept together a corps of talented players for the better
part of 10 years. Such continuity rarely exists now in an era in
which players switch teams regularly.

The Redskins interviewed at least three other candidates: former
Giants coach Jim Fassel, former Vikings coach Dennis Green, and
Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

Gibbs' racing teams have been among the most successful in
NASCAR, with two Winston Cup championships in the last four
seasons. Bobby Labonte won the title in 2000, Tony Stewart in 2002.

Gibbs' oldest son, J.D., is president of Joe Gibbs Racing. The
former coach's youngest son, Coy, finished 14th last season in the
Busch Series standings.

The racing team will continue under the same management. J.D.
Gibbs will remain team president, and all of the drivers and key
sponsors have long-term deals.

"He called a big meeting at the airport last night," Stewart
said. "He said, 'Can you meet us at the airport? We've got
something we got to talk about.' I think it is a great thing for
him. He has always been involved in football. Even when he hasn't
been coaching, he's kept a close eye on football."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.