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AP: Doug Williams Rooting Against Old Coach


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Doug Williams Rooting Against Old Coach


Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - The mere mention of Joe Gibbs' name made Doug Williams smile.

No pro coach meant more to the Super Bowl MVP quarterback's success as a player, and Williams concedes he'll have mixed emotions when Gibbs returns to the sideline Sunday to lead the Washington Redskins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"My son told me: `Daddy, I just realized this is your old team against your old team," Williams said. "It's going to be a tough one for me, but I realize where I am. I'm pulling for the Buccaneers."

Williams played five seasons with the Bucs, helping the franchise climb from the abyss of a 26-game losing streak to reach the NFC Championship Game in 1979. After a brief stay in the USFL, he returned to the NFL to help Gibbs win the second of three Super Bowl titles the Redskins captured under the 63-year-old Hall of Fame coach.

Gibbs retired after the 1992 season and operates a successful NASCAR racing team. His decision to return to coaching caught his old quarterback off guard.

"It was a total surprise to me. I figured after 11 years or so, racing and spending time with his grandbabies, football wasn't in it for him any more," Williams said, adding he has no doubts Gibbs will be successful in his second stint with the Redskins.

"It's going to be a challenge. I don't know how much of a challenge because he does have some talent to work with. The challenge will come if he doesn't win in the next two years. I think it will be a mental challenge to him, because it's about winning to him."

The ties between Williams and Gibbs go all the way back to Williams' rookie season, when Gibbs, then a Tampa Bay assistant, was instrumental in the decision to select the former Grambling star with the 17th pick in the 1978 draft.

Williams, now in his first season as a personnel executive with the Bucs, remembers spending countless hours in Gibbs' home, eating meals prepared by the coach's wife and learning the offense.

When the USFL folded, he said he received one phone call - from Gibbs.

"The only question he asked me was: `Can I play backup?' At that time, without a job, you can play any-up," Williams said.

Williams not only wound up becoming the starter after Gibbs changed his mind about trading him to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987, but he threw four touchdown passes in Washington's 42-10 rout of Denver in the Super Bowl that season.

"He said: `My job is to do what's best for the Washington Redskins, not for the L.A. Raiders,' Williams recalled. "He said: `I got a feeling that some time during this season you're going to come in and we're going to win this thing.' It was amazing. After the Super Bowl, he looked at me and said: 'Douglas! Told ya, didn't I?' That was a great feeling."

Williams retired in 1989. Nine years later, he succeeded Eddie Robinson as coach at Grambling, where he compiled a 52-18 record before walking away from his alma mater after six seasons.

Gibbs said he has been in contact "off and on" with Williams over the years and that the two saw one another at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this year.

"I'm proud of what he's done," Gibbs said.

"The first black quarterback, I think, picked that high, and (to) go all the way through ... some of the heartbreak that he's had in life, and then to turn around and come back and be the MVP of the Super Bowl, I think is a great story."

Williams watched the Redskins three times during the preseason and is impressed with what he's seen.

"I think anybody who knows Joe Gibbs knows he's not going to change. He's only going to show you what he wants you to see. He's going to give you basic, bland looks at what his offense is all about," Williams said.

Gibbs is not certain if his old quarterback will be able to provide any secrets to Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

"He's probably got it all back there," Gibbs said. "But hopefully he won't guess right."

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