De­layed start in foot­ball not de­rail­ing

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY JOHN O’CON­NOR jo­con­[email protected]­ (804) 649-6233 @RTDjohno­con­nor

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.

He’s learn­ing.

“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.”

J.D. Gibbs

wasn’t al­lowed to play tackle foot­ball un­til sev­enth grade.

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