|This picture was taken
during a Steeler vs
Raven contest in
which Gibson recorded
3 sacks, 4
solo and 7 assisted
tackles. He also
recovered a Raven
fumble which set up a
drive. Arguably the
finest performance of
his pro career.
The Fire Within !!!
Its Bigger Than Football !!!
Oliver was born on March 15, 1972 in Chicago, Illinois to parents Dave and Barbara Gibson. In an effort to provide a better education for their children, they
enrolled he and his sister in Montessori pre-school. Because Oliver was only two years old, his sister, who was already attending montessori convinced
the school head master Mrs Fleege, that her brother was smart, and could do the work. The strict curriculum was designed for children two years older
than he was at the time. This proved to be a worth-while endeavor for Mrs. Gibson, as her son learned to read and write before entering kindergarten.
Having little faith in the Chicago Public School System, his father elected to mortgage everything he had and move his family to the south-western suburb
Suburban life proved beneficial for the Gibson clan as both children were allowed to participate in a number of sports ranging from swimming to karate.
From an early age it was quite evident that Oliver had a passion for competing, even though his physical stature had not caught up with his burning desire
to compete. “ I was a chubby little kid” Oliver admitted, “ but my father always encouraged me to keep working and that I would grow out of it” and grow
out of it he did.
As families sometimes do, his parents separated in the summer of ’83, forcing them to find more affordable housing in the predominantly-white, lower
middle-class suburb of Romeoville, Illinois. This proved to be a turning point in the young man’s life. “ Going from Bolingbrook to Romeovile was a total
culture shock for me “ Oliver explained. “ I had never been called a "nigger" before. Now I was a fifth grade crossing-guard having racial epithets yelled at
me from passing cars as I attempted to help my younger classmates cross the busy intersection.”
However, the worst part of this exhibition of blatant racism did not always come from minors. “I remember getting into a fight with a classmate because of
a comment he made during science class.
We were studying the color spectrum and how different colors attract and reflect light. Our teacher said that lighter colors reflect light and darker colors
absorb light causing heat. One student yelled-out “is that why Oliver sweats so much?” The teacher replied “ why Kyle that might be it.” “ Needless to
say Kyle limped to the nurses office, as I was escorted to the principle’s. The saddest part about it was that the teacher was never reprimanded for her
racist joke ” explained Oliver.
The profiling continued on the academic side of school as well. “ I recall getting teased by a girl who explained to me that her mother said that black
people cannot speak or read as well as white people because they were not smart enough. Considering the fact that I had been reading since I was four, I
was very insulted.
It did not help that I was placed into the lowest reading level with no regard for my transcripts nor was I given a place-meant test. The only problem was
that this time I was insulted by a female. My father taught me to never hit a girl.” he joked. “So I did the next best thing-I told my mother ”.
It was now a call to action for Ms Gibson as she summarily marched into the principle’s office. However, instead of rep-remanding the principle for the
ongoing harassment, she demanded that her son be given a placement test. As she expected, her son was promoted to the “challenge” or honors reading
“If only life out of school could be rectified with a placement test” Oliver use to say to himself. Yet as we know, life is not that simple.
Oliver found himself in a small town that did not welcome him because of the color of his skin. Ironically, that which divided him from the masses, united
him with those who shared the same burden of racism.
“I remember being excited because another black family with sons my age moved to Romeoville.
We did not get along initially because they felt that I spoke like a white kid. I remember being embarrassed by them because it seemed that their speech
pattern (being fresh from the west-side of Chicago) played into the stereotype that I spent everyday fighting-literally. Eventually we became friends,
united by our middle school by basketball team.”
It was at this time that sports became an outlet for all of the frustrations suffered by this preteen adolescent. With his body slowly changing, Oliver began
to excel not only in the classroom, but on the baseball field, and the basketball court.
“ I was never allowed to play youth football because it had a weight limit. By the time I was able to play, I was not fat kid, I was just to big to for pee-wee
weight limits. A coach once called my house and suggested that I cut-weight, or run around with a garbage bag on to dehydrate myself before the weigh
in. It was presented to me that this was common practice amongst his players.
I mentioned this to my father and he replied “wait until high school son” plus I think he wanted to find the coach who said this a slap the mess out of him. I
always thought that it was ironic that a sport that rewards size on its highest level, excludes kids for it when they are young.”
Not only does football re-ward size, it rewards aggression, and anger and aggression was something that this growing young teenager had.
“There was a potentially serious incident that took place while I was in eighth-grade right before high school. My best friend and I were participating in the
gym class softball game. My friend who was black, hit the ball and ran to first base. As a result, he collided with the kid who was playing first base, who
happened to be white. A fight ensued. Under any other circumstance this would have been a harmless adolescent scuffle, yet a school bully had other
The kid my buddy fought was on my middle school basketball team. He was not really a friend but, definitely was not an enemy. When things got blown
out of proportion by the twice flunked, middle school bully, Chris decided to come and apologize to me. Because Ed (Oliver’s best friend) was my friend
his problems became my problems. So then the school bully decided to get all of his friends from high school together and attempt to “jump” us before
Conversely, we collected all of our friends and retaliated. I have never advocated joining a gang, but at that moment I under-stood the temptation. The
need to belong, and to be protected. My friend and I were tired of being out numbered.”
High school proved to be far less dramatic for Oliver as he took advantage of the opportune-ties made available to him by his four year coach Bill Wienke.
With the help of Coach Wienke he was named USA Today prep defensive player of the year...Parade Prep All-American...rated one of the 100 incoming
freshman nationally by USA Today.
The Sporting News, Football News, SuperPrep and Chicago Sun-Times...rated 15th best prospect nationally by Dallas Morning News and 21st overall by
Atlanta Constitution...rated sixth best regional prospect on Best of the Midwest team by the Detroit Free-Press...earned three letters as linebacker at
Romeo-ville High School...captain of team as a senior...recorded 187 tackles,14 sacks, four interceptions, five fumbles recoveries as a senior...also played
offensive tackle...an all state pick as both junior and senior by Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, and Champaign News-Gazette...named Gatorade Circle of
Champions Player of the year in Illinois as a senior...earned three letters in basketball, averaging 17.3 points and 11 rebounds as a sen-ior...captain of
basketball team as a senior...two-time all-conference selection in basketball.
He then went on to except a scholarship to play football at the University of Notre Dame. Gib-son’s college career got off to a slow start, but he continued
to improve, and his final at Notre Dame tuned out to be his best. He had 12 tackles in a 24-21 loss to Colorado in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.
As a college freshman he only played three games due to an injury. He ended up receiving red-shirt status from the NCAA and called the year a wash.. In
1991, he played eleven games at tackle and end showing sparks of life indicating that he would be a force to be reckoned with.
By his senior season, Gibson was the first string starting nose tackle, and in 1994 he finished fourth on the team with 72, and the honors once again began
rolling in. He was named to the all-independent team by the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
He was recipient of the Linemen of the Year Award of the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and won the Nick
Piet-rosante Award, named in honor of the late Fighting Irish fullback who died of cancer in 1988. His award goes to the player who exemplifies the
courage and spirit that was a trademark of
In the 1995 NFL draft, he was selected 120th overall in the 4th round. He was 4th defensive tackle selected in the draft an only one taken by the 1996 Super
Bowl runners-up Pittsburgh Steelers. http://espn.go.com/nfl/2000/20001015/recap/cinpit.html
He continued to excel in Pittsburgh until he moved to the Cincinnati Bengals franchise in 1999.http://bengals.enquirer.
During the 2000 season Gibson was called “the best free agent acquisition in franchise history” by reporter Geoff Hobson of the Cincinnati Enquirer and
Bengals.com. In 2001 he was invited to Washington D.C. as a recipient of the NFL’s Unsung Hero Award. He continued to be a staple of an improving
Bengal defense until leaving the franchise in 2004.
His final season was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Unfortunately, his 10 year career was cut short due to knee and abdominal injuries.
Oliver’s home-town is Chicago where he currently volunteer his time as a defensive -line coach at Proviso West High school in Hillside Illinois; http:
Oliver's mission is to get qualified student-athletes into colleges throughout the country, as well as working on a daily basis, in conjunction, with the
Proviso West football staff to help the Proviso West football team perform at the highest level of their potentials.
With all of his many pursuits Mr Gibson has still found time to start an independent record label entitled XOG Music, which in 2001 was home to Chicago
native and hip-hop superstar Kanye Omari West. Oliver is the proud a parent of 6 year old Zachary Quran Gibson and splits his residency between
Chicago, Illinois and Plantation, Florida
|PHOTO SLIDE SHOW OF SOME OF
OLIVER'S BIG PLAYS (click little box
to far right of Oiver's photo page)
Oliver Gibson June