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New Washington Redskins Coach Gibbs Warmly Welcomed Back to DC - 2004-01-09

Hall of Fame National Football League coach Joe Gibbs has returned to the Washington Redskins after 11 years away from the gridiron. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder signed the legendary coach to a five-year contract worth more than $25 million -the most in league history. Gibbs held his first press conference Thursday at Redskins Park in suburban Washington.

Redskins Park was packed beyond capacity by the media, as Joe Gibbs made his triumphant return to Washington. Owner Daniel Snyder opened the press conference with the official announcement. "Tonight is one of the most exciting days of my life, as a life-long Redskin fan. I would just like to introduce the head coach and team president of the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs," he said.

The 63-year-old Gibbs coached the Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances and three championships during his 12-season tenure from 1981 to 1992. But Gibbs has been away from the NFL for 11 years, and knows he has a lot of catching up to do.

"There are issues like the [salary] cap, I think there's new things on the field. I've got a steep learning curve here," he said. "I need to really get to work and bury myself in the film rooms and get caught up."

Football fans in the nation's capital are buzzing with optimism and excitement after hearing of Gibbs return. A jubilant crowd waited outside of Redskin Park in sub-freezing temperatures, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man they believe can save the franchise. Fan Mike Ward said, "Joe Gibbs, since I heard about it, I mean, he brought hope back to everybody. Something this area hasn't had in a long time, and I mean I love Joe Gibbs, so that's why I'm out here. I don't care how cold it is."

'Skins fan Ryan Meade is also thrilled. "I haven't been this happy in a long time," he said. "This is going to be one of the longest off-seasons in the world. He has proven he can win Super Bowls, so hopefully he can do it again."

And you can be sure that will continue to be the main topic of conversation throughout the off-season in Washington.