GREENSBORO — Jason Gibson will walk into the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday, onto a field on which he used to play, but this time as an opposing coach.
His Columbus Lions will meet the Carolina Cobras in a National Arena League indoor football game.
Gibson played for the Greensboro Prowlers in the af2 league in 2000-02 before moving to the offensive coordinator role in the team’s final season in 2003. He is the Prowlers' all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
“I had gotten cut from CFL when the af2 and the Greensboro Prowlers had just formed,” Gibson said. “It was the inaugural season in 2000… They were starting this new team in Greensboro and I came down as a free agent and they wound up signing me.”
After his time with the Prowlers, the late local coach Charlie Griffin helped Gibson start the next chapter of his career in high school sports.
“Charlie Griffin was one of our position coaches for the Prowlers and he got me into teaching,” Gibson said. “I’d never taught a school day in my life. He got me into the school system in Guilford County and I wound up getting my teaching license from North Carolina A&T.”
Gibson started as a defensive line coach for Dudley High School before getting hired as the offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Western Guilford High School for two years. Finally, his first head coaching job came at Eastern Guilford High School, where he won the Carolina Panthers 2004 NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.
Through playing and coaching, Greensboro holds as a special place for Gibson where he has impacted many lives and coached countless high school students. However, his favorite memory occurred when he first arrived in the city, when he caught the first ever af2 touchdown in the Greensboro Coliseum.
"No. 1 is with the Prowlers. That first game there were 13,000 people in that arena. Catching that touchdown from Brian Foulks, who played at Western Guilford High School and played at N.C. State. That stands out.”
Gibson has had his share of traditional football games and even coaches a private school team in the offseason, but his heart is set on arena football and the unique atmosphere that it brings.
“I’m a fan of arena football, not because I coach. It’s because there is never a bad seat, never bad weather, you can hear everything, sometimes you hear things you shouldn’t hear, and you don’t get that in an NFL game.”
Gibson enters his 12th season as head coach of the Lions (5-3), who will face the Cobras (7-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday. In his first 11 seasons with the Lions, Gibson was 102-44 and has made the playoffs 10 times.
“I’m happy for the city, because it’s got good fans," Gibson said. "I’ve actually had some fans reach out to me through email, ‘Can’t wait to see you come back’, and things like that. It’s just a good place for football.”