Gibbs serious: He's staying with 'Skins

Associated Press
Published February 1, 2005

ASHBURN, Va. - Joe Gibbs emphatically reiterated his commitment to the Redskins on Monday, quashing speculation that began with a misinterpretation of remarks he made at a NASCAR media day last week.

"I signed a five-year contract when I came here," Gibbs told a news conference. "Most people sign three-year contracts. My commitment to the Redskins, I want to do every single thing I can to restore the Redskins to winning football games.

"I'd say that my commitment is a minimum of five years. I want to get the Redskins back to winning, and that's first."

Last week, Gibbs said during a NASCAR media tour in Charlotte, N.C., that his "time in football will be short" compared to his commitment to his racing team. He then repeated a variation of a lighthearted one-liner he used several times during his 6-10 season: "If we don't win a few more games next year, my time in football will be real short."

Some commentators took the remarks seriously, prompting Gibbs to call reporters to Redskins Park to clarify his position.

"I was joking. I was telling a joke," Gibbs said. "It's amazing how very few people evidently don't have a sense of humor. ... Our dream is to continue forever with the racing. Football, you can't do that. My time in football is going to be short; er, I should have said, meaning less time than in racing."

Gibbs touched on other matters, confirming that receiver Rod Gardner had been given permission to seek a trade and denying any interest in Randy Moss, but such mundane football topics weren't the focus of his agenda.

"I guess the moral of this story is I can't joke," he said.

CLARETT PULLS OUT: Maurice Clarett stiff-armed another commitment, reinforcing doubts about his reliability and fitness with the NFL scouting combine three weeks away.

The former Ohio State running back had been scheduled to participate in the college football all-star challenge, an eight-player skills event taped Monday by Fox TV at Dolphins Stadium for broadcast Saturday.

But he recently hired a new agent, Steve Feldman, who told organizers late last week Clarett was pulling out.

"It was completely my decision," Feldman said. "He wanted to be there, but from a safety standpoint, it doesn't seem logical to take a chance that he might tweak something or pull something or damage something that would prevent him from showing off his stuff at the combine."

At the combine a year ago, Clarett showed up overweight and declined to work out. He'll be eligible for the draft in April after his legal bid to enter the NFL last year was overturned by an appeals court. He hasn't played since being suspended by Ohio State after the 2002 season.

Feldman said Clarett is healthy and working with a private trainer but declined to say where.

49ERS: Former Jets assistant Jim Hostler was hired as quarterbacks coach.

ARENA FOOTBALL: Storm quarterback Shane Stafford was named the Arena Football League Writers Association's player of the week. He completed a career-high 28 of 35 passes for a team record-tying eight touchdowns in a 63-33 victory over defending champion San Jose on Sunday.

--Times staff writer Frank Pastor contributed to this report.