Gibbs: Long-lasting dispute could hurt NFL

NASCAR owner Joe Gibbs went through NFL labor problems twice

during his Washington Redskins’ coaching career. Now a fan, Gibbs

doesn’t want the game he loves to suffer through a long work

stoppage that costs the sport popularity and prestige.

The three-time Super Bowl winner and NASCAR owner said Tuesday

the NFL lockout disturbs him and he hopes players and owners can

settle things before football suffers.

”There’s too much at stake,” Gibbs said. ”They may miss a few

preseason games, but I think they’ll get this done because

otherwise, I think it would hurt the sport.”

Gibbs spent Tuesday morning visiting inmates at the Broad River

Correctional Institution in South Carolina’s capital. He was in the

state six months ago on a similar mission at Turbeville

Correctional Institution, telling those behind bars that they can

find a second chance through religion.

”It could be the most important thing I do on this earth,”

Gibbs said.

Gibbs, 70, has lived a life of accomplishment.

After winning the Super Bowl following the 1982, 1987 and 1991

seasons as Washington’s coach, he became a success in NASCAR. The

teams of Joe Gibbs Racing won Sprint Cup titles in 2000 with driver

Bobby Labonte and in 2002 and 2005 with driver Tony Stewart.

Yet, Gibbs told 150 or so prisoners at Broad River’s training

facility that he, too, was laid low by mistakes. Gibbs pointed out

one misstep was a real-estate deal in Oklahoma soon after he began

at Washington that quickly soured and nearly led him to bankruptcy.

He said he called on his faith and his family to lead him back to

solvency.

”I don’t care what your mess is, finances, relationships,

addiction,” Gibbs said. ”God is bigger than any mess.”

Gibbs also gave the keynote speech at a luncheon hosted by

Columbia International University.

He said his faith has helped him keep perspective on his

professional life. Gibbs acknowledged that hasn’t always been easy.

He recalled the long nights in his football offices, scheming plays

and scouting teams to win another game. He said he apologized to

his sons, J.D. and Coy, in the past few years for all the events

and milestones he missed putting football coach ahead of

father.

”So I’m probably a good study on not getting the right balance

at times,” he said.

Gibbs said he often gets asked by fans who was harder to manage,

Washington running back John Riggins or JGR star driver Kyle Busch.

”I tell them, ‘Neither one’s a piece of cake,”’ he said with a

laugh. ”I enjoyed them both.”

Gibbs second stint as Washington coach lasted from 2004-2007.

He’s bothered that NFL owners and players haven’t come to agreement

before now. Still, Gibbs believes a settlement will be reached

before the regular season starts.

”I worry about it,” he said. ”I think it’ll come down to the

end.”

Gibbs left little doubt a possible return to the sidelines in

time to pick up another Super Bowl title after a season of labor

troubles.

”The best answer to that is to ask my wife and she’ll say ‘Read

my lips: The big no,”’ Gibbs said. ”I think we’re done

there.”

Gibbs said he’ll get to work with his NASCAR teams on engine

problems that have plagued his three drivers, Busch, Denny Hamlin

and Joey Logano, at times this season. Gibbs spent much of his time

out in California analyzing the problems and diagnosing a

solution.

”We got several options, different things we can do,” he said.

”It’s just a matter of making the right decision.”

That’s what Gibbs hopes the inmates he spoke too can do after

their release. After the speech, state Corrections Department chief

Bill Byars gave Gibbs a plaque that designated March 29th ”Joe

Gibbs Day.”

”We’ll put this in the race shop where everybody can see it,”

Gibbs said. ”There’s a lot of people there praying for you.”