WASHINGTON — Joe Gibbs doesn't fancy himself as much of an author, even if he has to buck a trend set by the past two coaches who have led their teams to the zenith of National Football League success--a Super Bowl victory.
Chicago Coach Mike Ditka discovered the joy of writing after his Bears won the Super Bowl two years back and produced a highly publicized book. New York Coach Bill Parcells caught literature fever after his Giants won the Super Bowl a scant year ago and followed suit.
"There will be no book," said Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII Jan. 31 in San Diego. "And if I ever write a book, it won't be about football."
Gibbs' low-key and decidedly modest personality does not easily lend itself to public confessionals. And, anyway, he was soured to NFL biographies after being savaged in former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann's book that was published last fall.
Book or no book, Gibbs is the star of the moment--if not the decade--among NFL coaches. He has the best winning percentage of any active NFL coach, winning a phenomenal 72% of his games since being hired as Redskins coach in 1981.
Added to the remarkable consistency he has produced--Washington's six straight winning seasons is the longest streak in the league--is the fact that the Redskins have advanced to the Super Bowl three times under Gibbs and have won the league championship twice.
Gibbs, however, takes success cautiously, even as he is lavished with praise.
"Success is so fleeting," Gibbs said. "I think it's very important to keep perspective on it."
Gibbs resists attempts to rank him among the elite coaches in league history, although one magazine used a statistical formula that rated him the best ever to coach in the NFL.
"I honestly believe that coaches who belong in that category have been around a lot longer than me," Gibbs countered. "I think you've got to do it over a period of time with a number of different players. I don't think I've been around long enough to be considered."
But consider this:
--The Redskins are the only team to play in three Super Bowls in the 1980s.
--Gibbs' teams have won at least 10 games every year since the strike-shortened 1982 season when the team won the Super Bowl.
--Gibbs has taken teams to the NFC Championship game four times in the past six years and with three different starting quarterbacks.
--Gibbs delivered an undefeated strike replacement team this season with the only team that had no players from the regular team cross the picket line.
--Gibbs' two Super Bowl championship teams have consisted largely of low round draft choices and free agents.
--In seven seasons, Gibbs is already the franchise's all-time leader in coaching victories.
--And only one assistant coach is absent from Gibbs' original staff.
Gibbs, 47, paid his dues as an NFL and collegiate assistant before landing his shot at a head coaching job. He was an assistant with the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and with San Diego State, Florida State, USC and Arkansas.
Gibbs said he absorbed various parts of the football philosophies from the head coaches under whom he served.
"Whether it's Frank Broyles (at Arkansas), John McKay (at USC and Tampa Bay), Bill Peterson (at Florida State) or Don Coryell (at San Diego State, St. Louis and San Diego), you carry things over from each one of them that they do well," Gibbs said. "Also, a number of assistant coaches I've been around have really helped me in coaching. It don't think it's any one person. I think it's a sum of being around a lot of good football people."
With the Redskins, Gibbs also has been blessed with a general manager possessing unusual inventiveness in Bobby Beathard and an owner with an open wallet in Jack Kent Cooke.
"I think any (success) goes to the organization. I'm probably the most dependent guy in the world. I've got an owner who wants to win and go get the players and I've got a guy like Bobby who goes out and gets the talent," Gibbs said.
Gibbs, who is intense, religious and admittedly somewhat boring, has sculpted his success with hard work and endless hours. Indeed, he spends at least three nights a week sleeping on a foldout bed in his office at the team's training facility in suburban Herndon, Va.
"I have never taken things home. I'd rather stay there and do it. Then I feel good when I go home--I can shut the door on work. A lot of people take it home with them and it stays with them. It seems to me when I go home, I can forget about it. I can relax," he said.
"I go home on Thursday night and Friday night and then Sunday after the game. If I went home, my wife (Pat) is asleep anyway. All I'd get is a big lump in the bed."
Another coach who kept similar hours was former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, who quit his job in 1982 complaining of job burnout.