It was on advice of counsel that George Allen wouldn't sign that new contract the Redskins offered, a firm reluctance that got him sacked as their head coach.
And on advice of the same counsel, Ted Marchibroda is right now sneering at the terms of the new contract the Baltimore Colts' owner has mentioned.
The same lawyer popped up two years ago as the agent who crafted for John McKay the biggest contract in coaching history, from the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.
National League club owners are much aware of the man. Five of their head coaches are his clients, including Dick Vermiel of the Eagles, and Jack Pardee, in between jobs as a defector from the Bears. He has others. Want a price on an appearance by Don Meredith? Talk to the man.
Who is our ubiquitous friend? Who is Ed hookstratten?
He has also put in with one club owner. No adversary relationship with the Los Angeles Rams. He is their general counsel. This could suggest a conflict of interest, in as much as the Rams are interested in his client, Coach Allen
No conflict, says Hookstratten easily.
He is a native Los Angeleno, now 47, who graduated from University of Southern California as E. Gregory Hookstratten. He is glib, affable, can reel of a list of clients that amounts to an autograph seeker's paradise, and could teel you about being a left-handed pitcher for the USC varsity.
Not long ago, Elvis Presley's will was submitted for probate in California. Hookstratten says this was his function as Presley's lawyer.
In addition to his coach-clients, Hookstratten used to represent such NFL quarterbacks as Roman Gabriel and Bill Munson. "But I'm not a sports lawyer. Essentially, I am an entertainment lawyer."
True. Phyllis George doesn't make a move toward a new contract with CBS except at Ed Hookstratten's direction. Same goes for Curt Gowdy, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg. The important TV newsmen, Tom Brokaw and Tom Snyder, also get their signals from Ed H.
A former actress, Pat Crowley, is his wife.
Despite materializing in so many places to handle contract crises, Hookstratten (See POVICH, C5, Col. 1> is no shadowy figure. He goes head to head with football club owners, network bosses and show business tycoons, "but always on polite terms," he says.
Yet it was partly a disenchantment with Allen's lawyer that led Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams to abandon attempts to sign Allen. Williams indicated, if not in as many words, that Hookstratten was "playing games" with the contract agreed on last July.
If Williams was not admiring of Hookstratten's tactics, he gained support Thursday from another NFL club owner. Bob Irsay of the Colta in describing the progress of his negotiations with Marchibroda, told the Baltimore Sun, "I won't talk to Hookstraten."
It was in polite lawyer-language that Hookstratten described his difficulty with Williams. "I didn't play games" with the contract," he said. "Allen earned everything he asked for. For a long period we did not even discuss Allen's contract because every mention of it seemed to infuriate Mr. Williams, whom I respect as a superlawyer a gentleman."
The sticking points in the contract, Hookstratten said, were two:
(1) the Redskins' refusal to renew Allen's option to buy 5 per cent of the team's stock for $500,000 and
(2) the deferred salary arrangements that Allen requested. Half of Allen's salary was to be deferred for four years.
The salary item was resolved, Hookstratten said, "but Williams wouldn't give us the stock option that we had agreed upon with Jack Kent Cooke majority stock owner) months ago in a Las Vegas meeting." Cooke could not be reached for comment.
When it was pointed out that Cooke had stood firm with Williams in refusal Allen the stock deal, Hookstratten said "I assume there will be a denial by COoke that we had an arrangement."
He said that although Allen's dismissal came as a shock, "a crushing blow," there was still an element of relief for Hookstratten when the end came. He said his file on Allen-Redskin negotiations "was eight inches thick."
If Jack pardee is to be the ultimate coaching choice of the Redskin, then Ed Hookstratten might possibly have laid claim to negotiating Redskin coaches coming and going. But there will be no such Redskin tour de force. He has generously divorced himself from the ongoing Pardee-Redskin talks, in what he may have perceived as a plus for an esteemed client.