Gibbs ends second run with 'Skins

Tom Brady was named The Associated Press' Offensive Player of the Year.  He had a single-season record 50 TD passes.
Tom Brady was named The Associated Press' Offensive Player of the Year. He had a single-season record 50 TD passes. MCT

ASHBURN, Va. -- Backlit by the bright glare of television floodlights, Joe Gibbs said goodbye for the second -- and final -- time.

When Gibbs walked out of Redskins Park just before 6 p.m. EST on Tuesday after announcing the end of his second go-round as Washington's head coach, about 30 fans were waiting. Bearing balloons and flowers, they circled him for autographs, and one exhorted him to run for president.

Gibbs' future will include Washington, in his role as special adviser to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. But it will center around his family -- including his 3-year-old grandson, Taylor, who has leukemia -- in Charlotte, N.C.

"There's certainly a part of me that wanted to be here, wanted to go back and win it all," Gibbs said. "I also think I'm excited about where I am, because I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be and where I'm supposed to be going."

Gibbs, who went 31-36 after returning to the Redskins in 2004, decided to retire in a whirlwind span of less than two days.

On Sunday, Gibbs held a team meeting after the Redskins' 35-14 loss at Seattle in Saturday's NFC wild-card playoff game. He then flew to Charlotte to spend time with his family, talking with his wife, Pat, and playing Scrabble with his grandchildren.

"When I started back to D.C. and got on the plane that (Monday) afternoon, I kind of had a real strong feeling in my heart of what I felt like I should do," he said.

Snyder, who will have to hire his fourth full-time head coach since buying the team in 1999, tried until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to convince Gibbs to stay for the final year of his five-year, $27.5 million contract.

"This is something that no one wanted to see happen, but all of us respect it and understand it," Snyder said. "Joe will always be the best of Washington."

Among five speculated candidates to replace Gibbs are former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and current USC coach Pete Carroll.

BRADY BEST ON OFFENSE -- Just like all those wins, the NFL awards keep rolling in for Tom Brady.

The league's Most Valuable Player added The Associated Press 2007 Offensive Player of the Year honors to his collection, easily outdistancing his main weapon on the unbeaten New England Patriots, Randy Moss.

Indeed, of the four players who received votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL, three were Patriots. Brady, of course, led the way, just as he did through the first 16-0 regular season in league history.

"We set out a bunch of goals early in the season," Brady said, "and I think I said the best part about playing quarterback here is I just have to do my job, show up every day and work hard just like everybody else."

And it's been a rewarding season for Brady, the first New England player to be chosen MVP and now the first Patriot to win Offensive Player of the Year. He collected 35½ votes to 12½ for Moss. Wes Welker, the Patriots' other starting receiver, got one, as did Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.

TAYLOR, THOMAS TO PRO BOWL -- Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor lost his title as the best player to never make the Pro Bowl. He was added to the AFC roster, replacing Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, who broke his leg Week 16 at St. Louis.

Also added to the AFC roster was Cleveland rookie left tackle Joe Thomas. He replaces Buffalo's Jason Peters, who injured his groin Week 16 against New England.

QUICK HITTERS -- NFL games continue to resist the general decline in viewers among the major television networks. Games on CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network averaged 15 million viewers in 2007, up 3 percent from the previous year. ... Chicago linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson resigned after just one season. ... Jim Dooley, who succeeded George Halas as head coach of the Chicago Bears, died Tuesday, his daughter said. He was 77.