That's the view of Mike McCormack, Graham's offensive line coach at the time and later a head coach with three NFL teams and a prime builder of the expansion Carolina Panthers in the mid-1990s. "That West Coast offense everybody talks about [that started with coach Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers] Otto was running it in the late `60s," McCormack said.
Before Williams hired Graham in 1966, he had tried to lure Vince Lombardi. But Lombardi wanted something Williams could not provide then equity in the team. So Lombardi went on to win two more NFL titles, and the first two Super Bowls, before retiring as Packer coach in February of 1968.
Lombardi remained general manager of the Packers. Less than nine months later, however, during a breakfast meeting with Williams before a Redskins-Packers game in RFK Stadium, Lombardi admitted that he missed coaching. This time, Williams was armed with what Lombardi wanted and Lombardi was interested. The two men subsequently met several times, sometimes in New York, sometimes in Florida, but always in secret because premature disclosure might complicate the negotiations.
What Williams had available was Redskins stock formerly held by DeOrsey's widow. He had persuaded her to sell her 130 shares to the other owners for $10,000 a share. Eighty shares had been retired and the other 50 shares were made available to Lombardi. So the package was that he would own 5 percent of the team and be- come executive vice president and coach at a salary of about $110,000.
However, two potential deal-breakers had to be overcome. Lombardi's arrangement with the Packers barred him from coaching another team during the life of his contract, which did not expire until January 31, 1974. Also, Williams apparently had violated the NFL rule requiring a team to ask permission before commencing negotiations with someone else's employee. Williams argued that Lombardi, after all, was the Packers' chief executive officer. The Packers executive committee, however, thought Williams should have requested its permission.
NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle intervened. He told the Packers executive committee that if it did not recommend Lombardi's release, he would not approve the Redskins deal. The delay caused Williams to cancel an introductory press conference in Washington for Lombardi. "I was never more humiliated," he said later.