Obviously, Joe Gibbs returns to the Washington Redskins with cherished memories. That much was certain in an anecdote-laden press conference Thursday afternoon. He recounted stories of late-night meetings and pre-game sessions, all the while acknowledging the former players and coaches in attendance.
For all the memories, Gibbs admitted they may not count for much when the Redskins square off against their first opponent next September. Indeed, Gibbs' return is ultimately about creating new memories.
That's why Gibbs didn't come to Redskin Park wearing any of his Super Bowl rings.
"Here's the way I look at it, really," he said. "This is different for us. We're trying to go forward with our players and a whole new group of people, and from this point on, the past doesn't buy us much other than relationships. We've got great relationships."
You can talk about Gibbs' offensive system and his Super Bowl championships, but his success was always about the relationships. It should be no surprise that in his opening statements, he started out by thanking his family, team owner Daniel M. Snyder, and the fans.
When asked whether his "fundamental beliefs" had changed about football over the years, Gibbs' reply followed along those lines.
"First of all, you win with good people," he said. "If we can get the right players who have the right character, it starts with that, and the right smarts and the right ability like we had before, then we have a good chance to win. I'll have to get caught up on the technical side of things, but more than anything, it's people. Hopefully, I don't think that's changed."
Gibbs stressed the importance of a quality coaching staff--which is why he added Joe Bugel to the fold as his assistant head coach. Before Gibbs was even named head coach, he flew to Buffalo to recruit in person Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. Never mind that the two didn't know each other very well at the time.
On Thursday, Gibbs talked of partnerships with the team's personnel department. He wants a "real discussion process" so that the coaching staff, the scouting staff and the front office are all on the same page.
"Here's the deal: When we take a player, we want to say that's our player, all of us," he said. "It's not the scouting department or the coaching department--it's all of. It takes teamwork. It's not one person. And I'm a small part of it.
"If you win, you win with a core group of guys who really believe in the Redskins--and that's what we're going to try to do."
And, of course, Gibbs talked about the most important people of all: the fans. No matter who the coaches and players are, the fans are the only ones who have proven themselves, he said. The fans proved themselves again Thursday when a group showed up at Redskin Park to greet Gibbs as he arrived for his press conference.
"The first part of this teamwork that it's going to take to make us a good football team is already in place," Gibbs said. "I want to say thank you to every single one of you. I remember all those days and I'm looking forward to more."