Joe Blair, the popular publicist who has ballyhooed the exploits of local collegiate and professional athletes the last 28 years, rejoined the Washington Redskins yesterday as the club's director of public relations.
"I'm delighted to announce that we've brought Joe back where he belongs," said Edward Bennett Williams, team president. "We are now finished with the reorganization of the front office. With Joe back, things are back to normal."
Blair, 54, began his career as sports information director with the University of Maryland in 1950 and remained there 12 years until he took over as the Redskins' director of public relations in 1962.
Blair stayed with the Redskins for 13 years until he accepted a position as director of public relations with the NFL Players Association in 1975.
For the past 18 months, Blair has worked as an assistant director of public relations at Maryland, and he will stay on there until June 1. Blair had a chance to rejoin the Redskins last season, but chose to remain at College Park.
"It was very difficult to leave the university," Blair said yesterday. "Jack Zane (Maryland's director of public relations) and Jim Kehoe (the athletic director) brought me back to the place I started, and I'm grateful to them. I enjoyed the campus, particularly working with the kids."
"The Redskins have always been an integral part of my life, and I look forward to returning and working with Jack Pardee. His being there made the decision a lot easier. And his wife Phyllis makes terrific spaghetti."
Charles Taylor, the Redskins' assistant director of public relations the last two years, will remain with the club in a similar capacity.
The Redskins announced the signing of five more free agents yesterday, including former University of Virginia quarterback Scott Gardner.
An eight-round choice of the Buffalo Bills in 1976, Gardner has spent that last two seasons playing semiprofessionally in Sarasota, Fla., after failing trials with the Bills and Tampa Bay.
Gardner, 24, (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) accounted for more than 6,000 yards of total offense at Virginia, where he threw for 33 touchdowns and ran for 13 more.
He is now the third quarterback on the Redskin roster, and General Manager Bobby Beathard said yesterday several more will be signed before the team goes to training camp.
Also signed as free agents were two men with NFL experience: Fred Coleman (6-4, 235), a tight end who played seven games for Buffalo in 1976, and Bart Buetwo (6-6 and 255), a tackleguard who has played for the N.Y. Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Toronto Argonauts.
Skip Chase (6-5, 245) a tight end cut by the Colts last season, and Mark Griffin, (6-5, 245), an offensive tackle released by the Detroit Lions in 1977, also were added to the roster.