Meet Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, and Joe Gibbs

51-6MwiGHtLGuts and Genius tells the saga of the three heads coaches that truly did dominate the NFL in the 1980’s.  The author walks through the football lives of Bill Parcels (New York Giants), Bill Walsh (San Francisco 49’ers), and Joe Gibbs (Washington Redskins).  Between these coaches, through the 1980’s into the early 90’s, they won 8 Super Bowls and left an indelible print on the NFL.

There are a few key common themes that tie these coaches together besides their winning ways.

First, they were football savants.  While each had their philosophies and systems, especially Walsh with the West Coast Offense, they were also flexible enough to adjust their approach to meet the strengths and weaknesses of their own teams and that of their opponents.  Of the three Walsh probably has the most long-term impact on the game with this short passing game designed to stretch the field horizontally and allow playmakers to get the ball in space and move the ball the down the field.  He also left a much more extensive and successful coaching three than Gibbs or Parcells.

The second theme is leadership.  While each coach had extremely different personalities, they each found ways to connect with and motivate their players to play as a team and achieve more as a unit than they could as a collection of individuals.  They each formed lifelong connections with many of the key players and coaches during their eras.

A third theme is that each started off slow trying to rebuild moribund franchises and had many insecurities and self-doubt.  Even when they were successful, the stress and insecurities almost doubled because the standard was always winning the Super Bowl.  Anything else was almost considered a failure.

Finally, and most disturbing, is the extreme stress and unfathomable hard work it took to accomplish the perfection each chased.  Reading about the extreme stress each felt to win it all, with Gibbs basically living at the football facility to such an extent he missed his sons growing up, and the health, mental, and physical toll football took on these men is profound.

While there is probably nothing profoundly new in this book, it was extremely well written, told in a concise, efficient, and lively prose, and frankly it is hard to put down.  For some reason, at least for this reader, it even provoked emotion and remembrances of the great teams these men led.  And while it goes from one coach to the next from chapter to chapter, that approach worked very well here, and facilitated understanding how these coaches interacted with each other, their teams, and how their journey’s unfolded.

I found this to be a very interesting and worthwhile read.

Guts and Genius: The Story of Three Unlikely Coaches Who Came to Dominate the NFL in the ’80s

The 1980’s Washington Redskins

51cjO8uF3zL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_This is well done history of the Washington Redskins during their heyday from 1981 to 1992 in which Joe Gibbs lead the team to three Super Bowl victories with three different quarterbacks.

While I am not a Redskins fan I was an admirer of the team during that period of time with its run oriented offense and tough defenses.

There certainly were a cast of colorful charters starting with running back John Riggins and the offensive linemen known as the Hogs, to the Fun Bunch which is what the wide receivers are known as.  The author provides an excellent portrait of how this cast of characters were melded into championship teams.

A few themes emerge about the history of the Redskins at this time.  First is the perseverance of Joe Gibbs. It took some time to start winning and he thought he was going to be fired before he turned the team around.  But turn the team around he did for a decade of success.  He luring John Riggins back out of retirement is an interesting story as you have the straight laced Joe Gibbs cajoling the drinking, carousing, curiosity known as John Riggins.  But Riggins was an integral part of the Redskins success and Gibbs knew it.

The creating of The Hogs – offensive linemen – and the Fun Bunch – wide receivers was also enjoyable to relive.  The Hogs particularly became a marketing sensation as well for the normally unknown offensive line.

There are more stories here as well, from Doug Williams up again, down again ride until his Super Bowl victory, the flair of Joe Theisman, the curmudgeonly Jack Kent Cooke, and the excellence of Darrell Green.

And finally, Joe Jacoby, the left tackle on this team, belongs in the Hall of Fame.

For a Redskins fan wanting to relive the glory days this is a must read.

Hail to the Redskins: Gibbs, the Diesel, the Hogs, and the Glory Days of D.C.’s Football Dynasty

 

 

Must Have Resource For Washington Redskins Fans

The Redskins Encyclopedia by Michael Richman

Review by C. Douglas Baker

The Redskins Encyclopedia is definitely a must have for Redskins fans. I am not even a Redskins fan and I found it thoroughly engaging and interesting, which is quite a feat for a text heavy encyclopedic history of a professional football team I don’t even root for.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to a chronological history of the Washington Redskins’ franchise from its origin in 1932 as the Boston Braves through 2006.

The book provides a review of each and every season in Redskins history, and what a history it has been.  You have the 1940’s with Slinging Sammy Baugh and a few World Championships.  You get to relive the topsy-turvy 1970’s under coach George Allen when the team lost Super Bowl VII to the undefeated Miami Dolphins.  You can recapture the glory years under Joe Gibbs and the heyday of the team in the 1980’s, winning three Super Bowls.  And then you can lament, if you are a Redskins fan, the post-Gibbs era and the recent return of Gibbs to save a franchise mired in mediocrity that persists today (and will like to continue to do so under the meddlesome owner Dan Snyder).

During the journey you will meet the great players and characters throughout Redskins history and get an excellent feel for the deep history and historical ebbs and flows of this long tenured franchise.

One of the nice touches of this work is that it breaks Redskins history into eras.  Before each era the book provides introductory insights into the franchise and where it was at and where it was headed before delving into season by season reviews.  This provides context and continuity. 

It also uses text boxes to provide greater detail about seminal Redskins owners, executives, and players. The text boxes provide some excellent information while nicely breaking up the text, making it more reader friendly.

One section of the book consists of mini-biographies of all the great Washington Redskins players, coaches, owners, and executives in the history of the franchise. I thought I would skim through this section quickly but it captured my attention so much I read through the entire section.

The last part of the book provides what most encyclopedias are supposed to provide, all-time team results, records, and other various statistics about the team.

Overall I found this to be a very through and engaging treatment of the history of the Washington Redskins.

 The Redskins Encyclopedia