With NFL coaching days behind him, Gibbs joins JGR full time

Updated: January 22, 2008, 10:05 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Joe Gibbs was one of the most respected coaches in the NFL, but back at his race shop he gets no respect at all.

At least not on Tuesday night.

"Obviously, my dad on my right in case you forgot what he looked like," said J.D. Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, when introducing key people in the organization.

The room full of reporters covering the 2008 Sprint Cup media tour chuckled. That wasn't the end of the one-liners, though.

"We're still trying to figure out how big of a pay cut he's going to get," said J.D., referring to the more than $5 million a year his father got with Washington. "It's gonna be large."

Said the elder Gibbs, "Can I talk now?"

Replied J.D., "You're the owner."

Yes, Joe Gibbs remains the owner of JGR. His role will be what it was before he returned to the Redskins in 2004, to work with sponsors, help find the best talent and maintain moral.

And, if you listen to the jokesters on his team, stay out of the way.

Tony Stewart, who has caused Gibbs more stress than any quarterback, joked that they needed to change the locks in the garage and keep the Hall of Fame coach upstairs.

"Definitely keep him out of the accounting office," the two-time champion said.

Gibbs wasn't shy about returning the sarcasm.

"I tell them I am the only one that goes around the garage with my radio unplugged and the chord dragging the ground," said Gibbs, who stepped down at Washington two weeks ago. "Nobody listens to me."

Gibbs joked about how he'll get blamed for everything that happens with the race team and the Redskins. He joked about how he couldn't believe crew chief Greg Zipadelli has put up with Stewart for 10 years, longer than any combination in the garage.

Asked about Stewart's new look -- long hair and a constantly growing midsection -- he said, "I walked right by him in the hallway. I didn't recognize who he was."

Gibbs' ability to joke with those below him is one reason he is so good with people.

"He dishes it out, so he better be able to take it," J.D. said.

All kidding aside, Gibbs is excited to be back at the company he began in 1992 with Dale Jarrett as his driver. He's excited about the chance to mix with employees and negotiate with sponsors.

And most importantly he's excited about the chance to be back around his family, which was the main reason for starting the organization and his main reason for returning.

"I had a great time in Washington," Gibbs said. "It is the greatest place in the world to coach. It's gonna be fun for me to get back in the racing family. So many people are here that mean so much to you, so I'm thrilled to be back home."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter