Delayed start in football not derailing
NASCAR’s J.D. Gibbs, the eldest son of team owner and Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, has died at 49 following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease.
Gibbs was a member of the William & Mary football program from 1987 to 1990.
“J.D. was a great young man,” said former William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said in a Saturday school release. “He came from an outstanding family and was a tremendous teammate while in our program. J.D. had a successful career after graduation, but, more importantly, he was a great father and a leader in his community. My thoughts are with the entire Gibbs family at this time.”
This is a 1988 story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
WILLIAMSBURG — J.D. Gibbs’ dad wouldn’t allow his son to play tackle football until the seventh grade.
“I played flag football before then, but I thought I could do so much better at the real thing, “said Gibbs, a sophomore defensive back at William & Mary. “When I got to seventh grade, I had to beg and beg him. I was dying to play. Finally, he gave in.”
Before you assume Mr. Gibbs is one of those overprotective parents who can’t appreciate the values football teaches, you should know something: Gibbs’ father is Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.
“Part of it was that he didn’t want me to get hurt and I think the other part was that he didn’t want me to burn out on football, “said Gibbs.
“Looking back, I think he did the right thing. I’ll probably do the same thing with my kids one day.” The toughest part of being Joe Gibbs’ son? Remembering this week’s home phone number. Because of the frequency of intrusive calls, the Gibbs change their number a few times every season.
“I don’t know why people even bother calling him at home, “said Gibbs.
“He’s never there.” Hyperbole, of course. During the season, Gibbs reports that dad does make it to the family house in Vienna on Sunday, Thursday and Friday nights. The rest of the time, the coach resides at Redskin Park, sleeping in his office.
It sounds like a lonely adolescence. It wasn’t, says Gibbs, who was the W&M staff’s special teams player of the week for his performance in a 14-6 Tribe win over Lehigh last Saturday.
After practice at Oakton High, where he was an all-district quarterback, Gibbs would visit dad at work and toss passes to the Redskin running backs. He was a regular at summer and offseason camps in Carlisle, Pa. Then there were the playoff and Super Bowl trips.
It was a young life Gibbs very much enjoyed. The business administration major wants to be a coach. There are those who already expect him to think like one.
“They assume I know more about football than I really do, “said Gibbs, who was also recruited by Richmond.
“I look for J.D. to play more and more at safety as the season goes on, “said W&M coach Jimmye Laycock.
“He had a chance at quarterback here when he came in, but we felt like we had more of a need for depth at strong safety. J.D. has done very well there. As a scout-teamer, he wasn’t at all afraid to jump in at any position.”
Coach Gibbs has viewed only one William & Mary game this season — the
Tribe’s opening loss at Virginia — but he was a regular at Oakton’s Friday night contests two years ago. The reviews the younger Gibbs received were those of a parent, not a highly respected pro tactician.
“He was never critical, “said Gibbs. “Most of the time, it was just ‘Good job,’ not much else. Of course, if I ask him about something, he’ll say more.”
And every now and then, the future coach has an opinion about the job his father has done.
“I ask him why he runs up the middle so much, “said Gibbs. “All he says is,‘We win, don’t we?”’
Monday through Saturday, Gibbs has W&M on his mind. There are occasional Redskins reminders from classmates who grew up as Cowboys or Giants fans, “but I think most of the people here really don’t know who my father is, “he said.
“I kind of like that.”
Sunday, Gibbs watches his second-favorite team. “I guess you could say I follow the Redskins more closely than most people, “he said. “I mean, that’s where my next meal’s coming from.”
wasn’t allowed to play tackle football until seventh grade.