American football player
Abraham Gibron (September 22, 1925 – September 23, 1997) was an American football coach and player. He is best remembered for his tenure as head coach of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He played in the NFL as an offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Bears. He also played in the All-America Football Conference for the Buffalo Bills. Gibron graduated from Elston High School in Michigan City, Indiana. After a stint in the military, he played his freshman year of college football at Valparaiso University before lettering twice at Purdue University. It was at Purdue that he met John McKay, with whom he would later work on the Buccaneers staff. He was drafted in the first round of the secret AAFC draft in 1949 by the Buffalo Bills. He was also drafted in the sixth round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, but chose to play with the Bills. After the league's merger with the National Football League, the players from the defunct teams went into a pool, from which Gibron was selected by the Cleveland Browns. Gibron played for the Browns for seven seasons. In six of those campaigns, the Browns played in the NFL Championship game, winning three times. Individually, he was selected to four Pro Bowls, and was named All-Pro from 1952-1954. In 1957, Gibron was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, then moved on the following year to play two seasons with the Chicago Bears. He ultimately played in 115 games over 11 seasons. From 1960-1964, he served as offensive line coach with the Washington Redskins, then went back to Chicago in a similar capacity for the Bears from 1965-1971. When head coach Jim Dooley was dismissed after three consecutive losing season, including a disastrous 1-13 slate in 1969, Gibron was elevated to the top slot on January 27, 1972. By time Gibron assumed the reins, Gale Sayers had finally been forced to retire due to his chronically bad knees, Dick Butkus was on in the twilight of his great career, and the team's passing game was severely limited with left-handed scrambler Bobby Douglass under center. In his three seasons, the Bears compiled an 11-30-1 record, resulting in Gibron's dismissal two days after the team's final game of the 1974 NFL season. The 4-10 record the Bears compiled in Gibron's last season allowed Chicago to pick fourth overall in the 1975 NFL Draft and select future all-time rushing leader Walter Payton. Gibron stayed in Chicago in 1975, serving as head coach of the World Football League's Chicago Winds. After the league folded in October of that year, Gibron resurfaced the following year as an assistant with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he served for nine seasons. Although not a successful head coach in terms of his won/lost record, Gibron was known for his colorful personality, and his substantial girth. Buccaneer rookie Charley Hannah once said after dining with him, "He was eating things we wouldn't even go swimming with in Alabama". A humorous clip of Gibron singing Joy to the World on the sidelines during a 1973 game against Denver was made famous by NFL Films in Football Follies. Gibron played himself in the critically acclaimed TV movie Brian's Song (1971), the story of Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. In December 1996 and February 1997, Gibron suffered strokes that confined him to his home for the remainder of his life. He died at home in Belleair, Florida.