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Mr. Gibbs returns to Washington

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Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs was named the Washington

' head football coach and team president Wednesday afternoon. Gibbs will be formally introduced at Park on Thursday at a 5:00 p.m. (et) press conference.

"The are very dear to me and my family," said Gibbs. "We're very excited about this opportunity to return to where we have so many friends and loyalties."

The had been in search of a coach since Steve Spurrier resigned last week after two unsuccessful seasons. Spurrier was only 12-20 in Washington.

Washington owner Daniel Snyder had indicated that he wanted a proven NFL coach to lead his team after Spurrier's resignation. Washington has made the playoffs only once since the glory days under Gibbs, late owner Jack Kent Cooke and former general manager Bobby Beathard.

"Joe Gibbs helped define what the Washington stand for - integrity, hard work, determination, winning and championships," said Snyder. "Who better to set our strategy and lead the back to championship glory."

Snyder interviewed three other candidates -- former New York coach Jim Fassel, former Minnesota coach Dennis Green and Seattle defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes before he elected to hire Gibbs.

Gibbs coached the from 1981-92 and led the club to titles in Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI. He also reached the Super Bowl following the 1983 season, but lost. After Gibbs resigned from his coaching position after the 1992 campaign, he entered the world of NASCAR as a team owner.

"The desire to coach has always been with me, even after being away from the game for 11 years," said Gibbs, whose contract with the will run for five years. "After speaking with my wife Pat, we both agreed it would be a thrill to go back. I appreciate Daniel Snyder giving me the opportunity to coach again. But rest assured, I remain personally committed to Joe Gibbs Racing and each and every sponsor who supports the many employees of Joe Gibbs Racing."

While working in NASCAR, Gibbs' racing teams have captured two Winston Cup Championships in the last four seasons, with Bobby Labonte winning in 2000 and claming NASCAR's top achievement two years later. Dale Jarrett, who drove for Gibbs, also won the sport's most lucrative race, the Daytona 500, in 1993.

Gibbs will continue to oversee his racing team, but his son J.D. Gibbs will perform the day-to-day operations.

"I'm very happy for him," said Stewart. "He's always been a coach, and football has always been very close to him. After working with Joe for a number of years, I know his commitment to winning is unmatched. Fans of the should be very happy."

The 63-year-old Gibbs, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, has a career regular-season record of 124-60, with a 16-5 mark in the postseason.

His 140 wins is the 14th best in NFL history, accomplished in just 12 seasons, six seasons less than his 13 counterparts. Gibbs' all-time win percentage of .683 remains the best among all NFL coaches with more than 125 wins.

Gibbs is currently a minority owner with the Atlanta , but he will have to sell his shares in the organization to return to the sidelines.

His return to coaching is similar to the path's taken by Dick Vermeil and Bill Parcells. Vermeil returned to the NFL in 1997 following a 14-year absence, led the St. Louis to a Super Bowl championship following the 1999 season, and has the Kansas City in the postseason this year. Parcells, who used to be the coach of the New York , returned to Dallas this season after a three-year hiatus and led the to the playoffs. Both

Vermeil, a former Philadelphia head coach, and Parcells, faced Gibbs as NFC East rivals during Gibbs' first run in Washington.

Gibbs marks the fifth coach under Snyder since the Bethesda marketing executive bought the team in 1999.

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