John McCaslin

By golly, it was him. Without thinking twice, I immediately dropped my canvas bag and unzipped it, revealing my Redskins stash. Now it was his eyes that grew wide.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

"What are you doing here?" he answered.

"I'm delivering these souvenirs from the Snyders to a local Redskins fan."

"You've got to be kidding me!"

Coach Gibbs grabbed the No. 24 jersey and held it up to show his wife, Pat.

"Can you believe this?" he asked her.

He explained that they were taking a rare vacation, island-hopping for one week on a chartered yacht. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to find Pops, or else the Bahamian would have had the shock of his life: gifts from the Snyders and personal greetings from the Hall of Fame coach alike.

When I finally did track down Pops, the Bahamian was speechless, hardly able to wait to show off the football memorabilia to his family and one Dolphins fan in particular. He thanked the Snyders for their generosity, and extended an invitation for the couple to visit his friendly island.

None of us, including Mr. Gibbs, knew at that moment what we know now: that Mrs. Snyder was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for breast cancer. For whatever reason, however, when we said our goodbyes at the dock, Mr. Gibbs reached into his pocket and handed me a small booklet of lessons he learned along the way in his life.

"Read this when you get home," he told me.

One of those lessons dealt with the time he came home in 1979 and found his wife crying. She'd been to a doctor and had a CAT scan that revealed a brain tumor. Two weeks later, she went in for surgery.

"Little did I know that I would come close to losing her on the operating table or that she would wind up with partial facial paralysis," Mr. Gibbs writes. "Going through something like that with the person you love sure makes football games seem trivial. We have been comforted in knowing that God loved her and that, as promised in His Word, He would work all things together for good for those who love Him."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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