JACK PARDEE brought more to Washington when he returned three years ago than just a reputation as a hard-nosed football player and an inspiring coach. He brought a sense of humanity and humility to an athletic organization that had previously possessed little of either. In the brutal business of professional football where winning all too often is the only thing that counts, Mr. Pardee stands tall as a man who understands that winning was not everything.

Our own judgment of Mr. Pardee's performance as coach of the Redskins is not nearly so harsh as that of the team's owner, Jack Kent Cooke, who fired Mr. Pardee yesterday. It was hardly Mr. Pardee's fault that the team's best running back played not a minute last fall, that its ace place kicker (and the league's best) suddenly couldn't kick straight, and that during a key stretch of the season almost every important play, every penalty and every bounce of the ball went against the Redskins.

Perhaps we, like many other Redskins fans, have looked at Mr. Pardee through burgundy-colored glasses and Mr. Cooke has a more accurate view. But Mr. Pardee gave this community things his predecessor did not -- candor, understanding and a sense that there are more important matters than those settled during Sunday afternoons at RFK Stadium.

In looking for a new coach, Mr. Cooke would do well to keep in mind some of Mr. Pardee's attributes. The head coach of the Redskins has a special responsibility in this community. Whoever he is, he is an example, even an idol, to thousands of youngsters. George Allen showed those kids what it is to be a winner. Jack Pardee showed them what it is to be a dignified human being.