George Allen's assistant coaches were given permission to seek employment elsewhere around the National Football League by Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams yesterday during a 30-minute staff meeting at Redskin Park.
"I've made them free to negotiate with whomever they choose so there will be no barrier to battering themselves," Williams said after the session, adding that. "There are some assistants I think so highly of I will urge the new head coach to consider keeping them."
Williams indicated that the man he chooses as Allen's successor will have a totally free hand to picking his own assistants. "That has to be the prerogative of the new coach, and they (the assistants) understand all of that," he said.
In related development yesterday, Williams denied a story in the Washington Star that he had settled on Bobby Mitchell, now the team's director of pro scouting, as the Redskins' new general manager, insisting, "I really haven't focused on that job yet, and I don't know how that story got out.
"I have the greatest respect and admiration for Bobby Mitchell. I had a long conference with Bobby (on Sunday), but it had nothing to do with the general manager's job. I got all the input I could on our scouting personnel. I did it yesterday (Sunday) because he had to go to St. Louise today for a meeting of our scouting combine.
"Somebody might have inferred that because I talked to him yesterday, that he was going to be general manager. But I talked to a lot of people yesterday."
Mitchell confimed Williams statement last night:
"I have not at any time actively sought the general's job with the Washington Redskins nor have I been offered the job. I don't know who would release something like that but I feel as if my career has been assassinated.
Ed knows that didn't come from me, but it certainly can't help me. I'm sure he knows I want to be considered but we've never gotten into that discussion. I feel like I had a good shot before the article came out, now I just have to feel like I've been killed.
We met Sunday morning for 2 1/2 hours. We talked about the structure of the organization, the scouting setup, some of the people involved, and that is all we talked about."
Meanwhile, on the west coast, Allen's path toward becoming head coach of the Los Angeles Rams turned smoother yesterday when Bill Walsh, considered a leading candidate for the job, announced he will remain as head coach at Stanford University.
"I appreciate the Rams' interest in me," Walsh said. "The job is one of the best in pro football because of the quality of both the organization and the team's personnel.
"However, I will want to set the record straight and reserve any uncertainty about my future at this time. I will not be leaving Stanford."
Allen and Cardinal coach Don Coryell are now considered the leading candidates, with Allen having the inside track.
There was all manner of uncertainty at Redskin Park yesterday before Williams showed up to address the entire office and coaching staff late in the afternoon. Since Allen's firing, Redskin assistants had been unable to officially seek employment elsewhere because they are all still under contract to the Redskins.
"I said to them today that coaching is a hazardous king of business that insecurity is an occupational hazard," Williams said. "Insofar as I could in the range of human possibility eliminate the detriment to them caused by the events of last week, I would do so.
"Some of their contracts expire at the end of this month. I also think it's totally unfair to terminate them at that time. I told them I would keep them on the payroll for a reasonable period until they either get renewed with us or they get reconnected."
Williams also announced that he had hired a new comptroller for the organization to replace Chester Minter, who died last week. Gerard Gabrys, formerly of Arthur Anderson & Co. and a certified public accountant who had worked previously with Minter, was named to the position.
But Williams continued to insist that no decision had been made on a general manager, although he outlined what he believes to be the division of powers between his new coach and general manager.
"They are totally separate responsibilities," he said. "I see the coach having all the normal duties a coach has in picking assistants, having supervision over those things directly relating to the playing of the game.
"I see the general manager as being responsible for the signing of the players and therefore having a tremendous voice and effect on the financial operations of the company.
"I see him as the principal administrative officer of the company, next to the president. I see him as working closely with the coach in trading, drafting, in supervision of the personnel department.
"I think it's important that we get two people who can work harmoniously together. They'll be working very closely and they'll each report to the president.
"It's important to have a general manager who knows the operating heads of all teams, who knows personel directors, who knows the player personnel of all the teams, who has a relationship with the general managers and coaches around the league so he will have good intelligence and information.
"Good information about problems others teams may be having, information about wher there may be unrest. Where there is unrest, there is fertile ground for advantageous trading."
The general manager also apparently will need a new set of keys to Redskin Park, because last Friday the locks on the front door of the complex were changed. A team spokesman said that was routine procedure every year. No, he added, George Allen will not get a key.