No kidding: Gibbs staying the course
Coach also says team is not interested in Moss; Gardner free to seek trade
ASHBURN -- Joe Gibbs emphatically reiterated his commitment to the Washington Redskins yesterday, quashing speculation that began with a misinterpretation of remarks he made at a NASCAR media day last week.
"I signed a five-year contract when I came here," Gibbs said at a news conference. "Most people sign three-year contracts. My commitment to the Redskins, I want to do every single thing I can to restore the Redskins to winning football games.
"I'd say that my commitment is a minimum of five years. I want to get the Redskins back to winning, and that's first."
Last week, Gibbs said during a NASCAR media tour in Charlotte, N.C., that his "time in football will be short" compared to his commitment to his racing team. He then repeated a variation of a lighthearted one-liner he used several times during last year's 6-10 season: "If we don't win a few more games next year, my time in football will be real short."
Some commentators took the remarks seriously, prompting Gibbs to call reporters to Redskins Park yesterday specifically to clarify his position.
"I was joking. I was telling a joke," Gibbs said. "Our dream is to continue forever with the racing. Football, you can't do that. My time in football is going to be short 'er,' I should have said, meaning less time than in racing."
Gibbs touched on other matters, confirming that receiver Rod Gardner had been given permission to seek a trade and denying any interest in Randy Moss, but such mundane football topics weren't the focus of his agenda.
"I guess the moral of this story is I can't joke," he said.
Gibbs was particularly upset over the way his remarks became fodder for sports talk radio, a medium that barely existed when he first coached the Redskins in the 1980s and early 1990s. He felt some comments were "out of bounds," including suggestions that he only returned to football for the money or that he wasn't devoting sufficient time to the football team.
"You would hope that people would do some research and everything before they jump out and put that out there," he said.
Gibbs said the negotiations for the NFL-record five-year, $27.5 million contract he signed a year ago lasted "probably 60 seconds," with owner Dan Snyder offering an amount that Gibbs quickly accepted.
"I've actually reached a point in my life where for the first time I didn't have to do things based on finances," Gibbs said. "I hope people would take me at my word that I did not do this from a financial standpoint."
As for his time investment, Gibbs last year adopted his work habits of old, holding meetings until the wee hours and frequently sleeping on a cot in his office.
"I'm giving this every single thing I've got," Gibbs said.
Gibbs' remarks came at the start of three days of coaches' meetings to discuss the salary cap and free agency. The coach offered updates on several players:
* Gibbs said Gardner's agent had requested a trade, and that the Redskins had agreed to it. Gibbs said the decision was based on "just the way the year went" without being specific.
Gardner, entering the final year of a five-year, $7.7 million contract, has been an erratic receiver who has failed to live up to his billing as a first-round draft pick. He caught 51 passes for 650 yards last year and made headlines by throwing a midnight, midweek birthday for himself during the season. Rookie Sean Taylor was stopped on the way home from the party and was subsequently convicted for refusing to take a blood-alcohol test, a verdict that is under appeal.
* Gibbs said he would pass if contacted by the Minnesota Vikings about a trade for volatile receiver Moss, not surprising given that Gibbs puts an emphasis on good character players who can be locker room leaders.
"He's a heck of a player, but I think in our case, it's not something we would be interested in," Gibbs said.
* Gibbs said his biggest injury concern is linebacker LaVar Arrington's right knee, which has been slow to recover from surgery in September because of a bone bruise. Gibbs said more surgery is a possibility if Arrington doesn't continue to improve over the next two weeks.
* Gibbs said he has had "good conversations" with Fred Smoot's agent, but the coach implied that a wide gap still existed in negotiations with the pending free agent cornerback.
"Personally, I would hope that the guy gets all the money he can get," Gibbs said. "The problem is when you do that, it costs you players."