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Tagliabue due to decide soon on Gibbs' eligibility


NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is expected to decide soon whether former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is eligible to become the first coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers.

A league spokesman said yesterday that the Redskins have filed their case in the Gibbs matter and Tagliabue will make a decision "in the near future."

The Redskins are arguing that Gibbs can't be hired by another team before 1995 unless they get compensation because he had two years left on his contract when he resigned last March 5.

The Panthers counter that since they won't play any games until 1995, they should be able to hire Gibbs now without giving the Redskins compensation. The other expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, will make a pitch for Gibbs, but he's leaning toward Charlotte because his auto racing team has its headquarters there.

Gibbs said he doesn't want to coach this year so that he'll be able to watch his son, Coy, play football during his senior year at Stanford this fall.

The Panthers, who had preliminary talks with Gibbs during Super Bowl week in Atlanta, are confident that Tagliabue will rule in their favor and he'll become their first coach, although Gibbs has not announced that he's definitely returning to the coaching ranks in 1995.

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