Redskin coach George Allen announced today his first trade of the summer. He obtained running back Harold Hart from the New England Patriots in exchange for "future considerations."
Followers of Monday night football may remember Hart as the young man who once toiled for the Oakland Raiders and returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the opening Monday night game of the 1975 season.
Hart is 6-foot, 205 pounds and Allen said today he planned to let him return a kickoff or two against the Green Bay Packers Saturday night, and perhaps even play a series as well.
Since the Raiders let him go in the expansion draft last year. Hart's career has gone careening downhill. He spent the 1976 season on Tampa Bay's injured reserve list after hurting his left knee in a scrimmage the second day of training camp.
He was cut by the Buccaneers two weeks ago. "It was a shaky situation," he said, "and I didn't play at USC." He was picked up by the New England Patriots.
His reference to USC, of course, pertained to Tampa coach John McKay, the former USC coach who is relying heavily on two of his old school's players, Ricky Bell and Anthony Davis, to carry the ball this season.
When Hart got to New England, he didn't especially like what he saw, either. While Horace Ivory, the Patriots' No. 2 draft choice, held out and stayed away from camp, Hart got all the work he could handle.
When Ivory reported two weeks ago, "I wasn't even working out with the offense." Hart said. "They just moved me right out of the picture." Hart then asked Patriot coach Chuck Fairbanks to trade him, and he was accommodated this morning.
The future considerations no doubt will depend on whether Hart makes the Redskins, a longshot possibility depending on injuries and his own performance on the special teams.
To make room on the 60-man roster, the Redskins waived Brad Davis, the former LSU running back they had signed only a week ago. But Davis had already signed his own pink slip.
Davis called over the weekend to tell the Redskins he was going back to dental school. "When I interviewed him last week in Miami I asked him if he was sure he wanted to play football." Allen shrugged today. "He said he did, but he never really was very enthusiastic."
Hart is another story.
"I'll play wherever they want me to," he said. "I don't know what their plans are for me because I came straight from the airport to the practice field and I haven't really talked to anyone. I know they've got good backs here. I'll have to see what develops."
Allen described Hart as "a pretty good athlete. He can catch the ball, he's young (25), he's got natural running ability and he's been a good special teamer."
In 1975, Hart led the AFC in kickoff returns with a 305-yard average on 17 returns. He also was used occasionally as a starter in the Raider backfield. In two years with Oakland, he averaged 4.1 yards on 107 carries, all at tailback.
The Redskins are loaded at the running back positions and also are extremely versatile. Reserves Bob Brunet, Eddie Moss and Clarence Harmon all are being given work at fullback and tailback and are being used on many special teams.
The Redskins also seem solid enough on punt and kickoff returns, with Larry Jones and Eddie Brown being used on both units. But if Hart can show some of his old Oakland dazzle, he may have a shot.
A year ago, the Redskins kept only five running backs. They may hold onto six this season because of the two-man taxi squad.
Hart did a lot of standing around today, as did tailback Calvin Hill, who bruised his right knee in Thursday night's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Hill was not able to jog today, but he is expected to be available to play against the Packers.
With Hill out, Mike Thomas returned to his starting tailback position, teaming with fullback John Riggins. He showed no signs of the hamstring problems that sidelined him for three weeks, dashing and darting through the line during a 45-minute 11 on 11 drill.
Harold McLinton remained the only major casualty from the game with the Chiefs. He is on crutches and limping with a sprained left foot that most likely will keep him out of action this week. Allen said Rusty Tillman will start in his place at middle linebacker against Green Bay.