During the 1980s, Joe Gibbs happened to meet President Reagan on several occasions, most notably at the White House after the Redskins' two Super Bowl championships in 1983 and 1988.
In fact, Gibbs was standing beside Reagan in January 1988 during a memorable moment when the former president threw a pass to wide receiver Ricky Sanders at a ceremony in the Rose Garden.
After hearing of Reagan's passing on Saturday, June 5, Gibbs reflected on his memories of the former president. Both arrived in Washington at the same time--in January 1981--and Gibbs attended Reagan's inaugural parade.
Two years later, Reagan welcomed Gibbs and the Redskins at Dulles International Airport after the team had returned from winning Super Bowl XVII.
Said Gibbs: "You really have to admire him and I think he probably did change the face of the world. It's a sad thing to lose somebody like that."
Gibbs relayed a story from 1983, the first time the Redskins visited the White House following Super Bowl XVII. He stood inside the Oval Office waiting for the ceremony to begin when President Reagan started talking football with him.
"The president leans over to me and says, 'I played football, you know,'" Gibbs said. "And I just said, 'Yes, sir.' He said, 'I played guard. I still sign things as number 33 [his jersey number].' And I said, 'Yes, sir.' Then he says, 'I remember we were playing Lehigh and the lineman across from me was about 180 pounds. I still remember cross-blocking him on outside plays.'
"So the president and I walked all the way down the hallway as he was relaying this football story, all the way into the Rose Garden, where we had this little presentation for the team. I think that's the longest conversation I ever had with him.
"It seemed like [President Reagan] was somebody who had a great feeling for the concept of team. Certainly, by him relaying that story to me, I think he liked sports. And I think he had a feeling of what it was like to play on a team. He was a real good team builder."