In today's Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the hiring of a young offensive coordinator out of San Diego, Joe Gibbs, as the team's new head coach Jan. 13, 1981.
At 40 years old, Joe Gibbs had spent 17 years as an assistant football coach at the collegiate and professional levels, but never once had been handed the keys of a program.
](https://rewards.mdlottery.com/)That all changed on Jan. 13, 1981, however, when Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and general manager Bobby Beathard took a chance on Gibbs, who at the time was regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the game.
Gibbs was hired to resurrect the Redskins franchise, which had just completed a 6-10 season in 1980 – it's worst performance in 17 years – and had not made the playoffs in four seasons.
According to The Washington Post, Gibbs was already considered a primary target for the Redskins entering that offseason, but a 3 ½-hour meeting in New York the night before his hiring sealed the deal for Cooke.
"Joe appeals to me because of his obvious dedication to the game," he said. "I have confidence that Joe will provide the Redskins fans with a team that will stir the imagination, win or lose."
At the time of his hiring, Gibbs was building quite the reputation as an offensive mastermind after guiding a record-breaking attack as the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator. In 1980, San Diego , led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Dan Fouts, became the first team in NFL history to average 400 yards of total offense and had three separate receivers gain at least 1,000 yards.
Fouts gave all the credit to Gibbs, whom he called a "genius."
It wouldn't take long for Gibbs to make his mark in Washington, D.C. – although an 0-5 start to his first season certainly wasn't ideal.
In just his second season, the Redskins would defeat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17, to claim the franchise's first Super Bowl title. The next season, Washington would again get to the big game, but lost to the L.A. Raiders, 38-9.
In just three seasons, Gibbs had already created a culture and expectation of winning – and winning big.
That would continue over the next several years. The Redskins would once again win the Super Bowl in the 1987 (42-10 over the Denver Broncos) and 1991 (37-24 over the Buffalo Bills) seasons, putting them among the elite franchises in all of football.
Gibbs retired in March 1993 after 12 seasons with the team, and became a highly-successful racing team owner. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, but got the coaching bug once again in 2004. With their head coach job open, Gibbs was re-hired by the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder, and would spend four more seasons with the team.
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