In a few hours, the fate of the Washington Redskins' emotionally and spiritually harrowing season will be decided as they take on the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. There are many reasons to look at the Redskins' season and wonder why they are in contention for a playoff spot -- especially the shocking and tragic murder of safety Sean Taylor. On Friday, Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon reflected on the challenging season the Redskins club has endured and shared a few thoughts on how head coach Joe Gibbs has managed to bring his club within reach of the postseason:
Both Walker and Bostic can recall, word-for-word, some of what Gibbs would say at the beginning of every training camp. They both talk of his legendary calm. Bostic says he remembers Gibbs losing his temper twice in 12 seasons. And they, among others, cite Gibbs's spiritual faith as being instrumental in getting his teams to believe.
"We all know about Joe's great belief in God," Bostic said. "And I think he has a way of imposing his belief. Whether you're a believer or not, or you think you are or not, he has you believing in something larger than yourself."
It's not that Gibbs converts everyone to believe in what he believes in spiritually, just that, regardless of whether the team is in contention or struggling, the people on hand are not going to indulge in selfish behavior.
Bostic's quote -- that Gibbs has a way of imposing his belief on others -- deserves some additional scrutiny. One perspective would take this perceived imposition of faith as an affront to his players who are essentially employees under his direction. Wilbon could easily have perceived the quote that way, but he knows that Gibbs' faith is subtler, as the subsequent paragraph explains.
Gibbs' faith informs his actions and attitude as a coach, and that flows into the behavior and attitude of his players. How often do you see that kind of analysis about a professional football coach?
Gibbs is of course one of the most outspoken Christians in professional football, but unfortunately you won't likely see much discussion about it during this afternoon's game. That's too bad, since it clearly has played a significant role in the Redskins' struggle to get to where they are today.