Saturday, December 27, 2014

Greatest Players of the NFL: John Riggins

In Patrick McCaskey's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships he covers the ten greatest NFL coaches of all-time.  Among the pillars is Joe Gibbs  who coached the Redskins to three Super Bowls and four NFC Championships in 16 years as head coach.  In Pillars, we describe some of Gibbs key players and we'd  thought we'd reproduce some of that for our posts.  Gibbs had a penchant for getting great play from his men.
John Riggins was a big fullback who was able to get tough yards—a workhorse who would have a Hall of Fame career.  After playing 5 years with the Jets, he joined the Redskins in 1976, but Gibbs had to convince Riggins to return to the NFL after a one-year holdout. 

Riggins was a free spirit who had made his mark with the Jets, but he seemed less than enthusiastic about coming back to play again after he had taken a year off.  Gibbs famously met with Riggins on the Seneca, Kansas native’s own turf while the running back was apparently taking a short break from a hunting excursion. When the two met, the running back was sporting camouflage hunting gear and a can of beer at 10 a.m. Gibbs was not impressed. He remembered Riggins telling him that he would make Gibbs famous.  Gibbs was not taking the bait and described his thinking:

Oh, my God, he's an egomaniac...I'll get him back and then I'll trade him.
But when Riggins returned his call a few days later, he explained to his prospective coach:
There's only one thing I want in my contract…A no-trade clause.

Gibbs worked things out with Riggins and the powerful Kansan helped Gibbs achieve great success in Washington.  Upon Riggins’ return to Washington, he famously explained to the press:

I’m bored, I’m broke, I’m back.
Gibbs not only liked Riggins’s performance, he created an offensive scheme that maximized it. After Riggins retired, Gibbs looked for Riggins type players he could use in the same way.

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