Redskins

The Big Twenty: Joe Gibbs returns as coach

Redskins

NBC Sports Washington is rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 5.

The world of entertainment today is littered with too many sequels, most of which feel unnecessary. But back in 2004, the Washington area's dream sequel became reality.

Joe Gibbs 2.0.

Coming off of a disastrous Steve Spurrier-led 5-11 season in 2003, Dan Snyder knew the Redskins needed a serious reboot. So, he made a push for the franchise's most revered figure, a man that would immediately rejuvenate an organization and a region and send shock waves throughout the entire sport.

After retiring in 1993, Gibbs was approached multiple times by owners who had hoped they could convince him to return to the NFL. However, the legend was content spending his time in NASCAR and bonding with the family he had missed so much during his first go-round with Washington.

After all, what more was there for him to do?

Eventually, though, the desire to coach again became too much to ignore — as it tends to do with football lifers like Gibbs — right at a time the team he had captured three Super Bowls with needed an established leader. Snyder made his pitch and, finally, got his guy.

Organization rejuvenated. Region rejuvenated. Shock waves sent.

A Hall of Famer was coming home.

"Joe Gibbs helped define what the Washington Redskins stand for," Snyder said when the move was announced.

"I couldn't coach anywhere but Washington," Gibbs said when he was reintroduced. 

 

These days, the Redskins are too fond of reaching into the past when they should be focusing on the present and future, which is an illness that Ron Rivera is surely hoping to fix. But in the mid-2000s, Gibbs coming back generated a massive wave of excitement and immediately re-established a level of legitimacy the whole operation badly needed.

Of course, in his four years in charge again, Gibbs didn't add to his collection of Lombardi Trophies or lead any parades as he did during his untouchable first reign. Yet it's worth pointing out he made the playoffs twice from 2004 to 2007, with each run culminating in a clutch December winning streak, which is a level of success that really hasn't been matched by any other coach in the 2000s.

Still, Gibbs' return easily belongs on the list of top 20 moments in this area's recent history. Why?

Because when he came back, he brought hope with him. And that's something that hasn't exactly been bountiful with the Redskins this millennium.  

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