Jack Pardee met for seven hours with Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams yesterday and emerged from the meeting the No. 1 choice to replace George Allen as head coach of the Redskins.
Pardee resigned as head coach of the Chicago Bears Thursday and flew with his wife to Washington to seek the head coaching position here.
It was learned that Pardee did not even listen to an offer from Bear general manager Jim Finks Thursday, leading to the speculation that he has the Redskin job locked up.
"I've always held Jack Pardee in the highest regard," said Williams after yesterday's meeting."I have the highest regard of him.
"It was a very constructive meeting," Williams continued. "We discussed all facets of the operation."
Pardee could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
While it appears Pardee will be the coach - "since he didn't listen to our offer, it seems to me he has the Redskin, job," said Finks - Williams apparently did not sign Pardee to a contract yesterday.
Williams said he still plans to interview some other applicants. While he would not name names, he probably will talk with Dan Reeves, assistant coach of the Dallas cowboys; Don Coryell, lame-duck coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Bill Walsh, coach of Stanford University.
Williams said he canceled his plans to go to the owner's meeting in Tampa this weekend in hopes of wrapping up a new coach as soon as possible.
In Tampa, Fla., where he is attending NFL meetings and the Pro Bowl, Finks gave The Washington Post his account of a Thursday meeting with Pardee and Ed Hookstratten, Pardee's attorney. What occurred as the meeting opened Finks said, made him think that Pardee has the Redskin jon locked up.
"We opened the meeting and the first think Jack said before anything began was that he would permission to talk to the Redskin," Finks said. "It was very clear Jack did not want to coach in Chicago next year. I was a little surprised."
Finks said they even discussed which assistant coaches Pardee wanted to take with him . . . "I asked what would happen if he didn't get the Redskins' job and I got every indication the job was already his," said Finks. "Let's face it, you don't give up a job you already have without another one.
"But I'm tired of trying to cover up for him (Pardee) being mysterious. And I resent the onus being put on me."
Finks called Pardee "a fine, totally dedicated man. It's done. It's history. I've got no quarrel with anybody trying to improve himself. We all have different likes and dislikes. I wish he had handled things differently. I wish I'd have known a little sooner."
Finks said he had offered to negotiate a new contract with Pardee last January, to replace the three-year pact that would have expired in 10 days. Finks said Pardee and Hookstratten, who also is Allen's attorney kept putting him off.
Hookstratten says he will not negotiate for Pardee with the Redskins.
"Jack gave me a little shuffle" is the way Finks put it yesterday.
Finks, who hired Pardee shortly after becoming general manager, gave this chronology of events:
When he offered to negotiate a new contract, Pardee asked Finks to talk to Hookstratten. Finks said he was "taken back" because he thought Pardee considered himself part of management. He agreed because he said he had known Hookstratten for years.
They arranged a meeting in Phoenix during league meetings in March. Hookstratten never showed up. When Finks mentioned it once to Pardee in the spring, the coach did not give him much of a response. At this point, Finks said, he assumed Pardee "just wanted to wait until the end of the year when he had a better bargaining position . . . It was fine with me."
Before the Houston game, a 47-0 loss to the Oilers, one Chicago paper, unaware that Finks had offered Pardee a new contract, speculated that pardee might be dumped. Finks replied by giving Pardee a strong vote of confidence, without revealing the contract offer.
The Bears then won their final six regular-season games to beat out the Redskins for the playoffs and to earn a first-round berth against Dallas.
Finks arranged a meeting with Hookstratten at the Pro Bowl.Then he suddenly thought, "That would be the last week of Jack's contract, and I can't wait that long."
Hookstratten came to Chicago Monday and Fink said the lawyer his role. "Merely money, length of contract and how Jack takes his money," Finks said he was gold. Finks said fine, but he wanted to iron out "some philosophical problems," mainly Pardee's public criticism of the team's stadium and training facility.
Thus, the Thursday meeting was set up.
Yesterday, Finks said that he would not rehire Pardee if the coach did not land the Washington job.
He also said he would not hire Allen.
"His methods and ours would conflict," Finks said, "although I have great admiration for the man because it's obvious his methods do work."
He also labeled a report that he would try to hire Bud Grant, who coached under Finks at Minnesota, as "totally ridiculous . . . The next job Bud Grant takes will be as a game warden somewhere.
Pardee, 41, began his coaching career as a Redskin assistant following a 15-year NFL linebacking career that began when the Los Angeles Rams picked him as a second-round draft choice out of Texas A&M in 1957.
Pardee overcame cancer in 1965. He played 13 seasons with the Rams and was one of the so-called Ramskins brought by Allen from Los Angeles to Washington when he became Redskin coach in 1971. He was defensive signal caller for Allen at both Los Angeles and Washington.
Pardee retired after the 1972 season and coached Redskin linebackers for a year. He was named coach of the Washington Ambassadors of the then new, now-defunct World Football League.
That team moved to Norfolk, Va., and then Orlando, Fla. The team, while financially strapped, reached the WFL championship game. Then the Bears hired him in 1975.
Pardee was born April 19, 1936, in Exira, Iowa, but grew up in Christoval, Tex. He was voted to the all-time Texas all-pro team in 1975. He andhis wife recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have five children.