In the continuing melodrama over the change of command of the Baltimore Colts, former executive vice president and general manager Joe Thomas brought forth a mouthpiece yesterday to tell his side of the story.
One of the most surprising segments of the prepared remarks released by the firm of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander suggested that coach Ted Marchibroda, as recently as the Pro Bowl game Jan. 17, was unsure to keeping his job.
"Shortly before the Pro Bowl game," Thomas' statement said, "Marchibroda asked me for permission to talk to other clubs (about a job). I said it was o.k. as far as I was concerned, but he would have to get permission from (owner Bob) Irsay. Irsay refused."
Thomas said he did not ask for permission to talk to Atlanta about becoming Falcon general manager, as has been reported, but "rather, Atlanta asked Irsay for permission to talk to me. I did not hear of it until after permission was granted."
"When I confirmed this with Irsay, I said, 'I assume that you are trying to tell me something.' He did not comment."
Of the feud that reportedly has existed since Marchibroda quit during the exhibition season, charging front office interference, Thomas said, "Marchibroda and I never had a serious disagreement before he quit after Irsay's performance in the locker room following the last preseason game of 1976.
"When he was asked to stay as head coach, Marchibroda asked for and got from Irsay authority which was in conflict with my contract. I agreed to go along for the good of the club.
"After that, Marchibroda and I continued to get along without seious disagreement. It is not true that Marchibroda and I did not communicate.
". . . Although there have been rumors to the contrary, I have never interfered with the Xs and Os of football."
The next episode in the serial is scheduled for today, when a news conference has been called ostensibly to announce that Dick Szymanski, Colt director of personnel, will be named new general manager and Ernie Accorsi, former Colt publicist, who is assistant to National Conference President George Halas, will be named assistant general manager.