With the regular season over, the Washington Redskins' chances of making the National Football League playoffs appear slim. But they have not given up hope.
"Just because the playoffs started without us is no reason for us to get down on ourselves and give up the ghost," a team spokesman said yesterday.
The Redskins' playoff aspirations apparently vanished when they lost their last five games, eight of their last 10, and finished the regular season 8-8. But Coach Jack Pardee, and eternal optimist, remained hopeful.
"Deep down in my heart," he said, "I believe that Santa will leave a wild-card berth in our stocking."
The never-say-die Redskins are ready for their nonappearance in the playoffs, as these developments indicate:
Running back Mike Thomas said that if there is a game, he will not play because of a painful pulled calf muscle.
Pardee said he will stick with quarterback Joe Theismann whether there is a game or not, but if there is one, offensive coordinator Joe Walton will call the plays.
Theismann said that if there is no game, he would like to call his own plays.
Former Coach George Allen second-guessed Pardee's decision. "I would start Billy Kilmer and let Richard Nixon call the plays," he said by phone from his home in never-never land. "This is the biggest game the Redskins have never played, so you go with guys with proven records."
Allen also revealed that, even though the Redskins are not practicing, he would have closed their nonworkouts to the press and public, lest spies for non-opponents find out that the team has gone home to hibernate for the winter.
Kilmer said the quarterback decision was "up to the coach, he's the one who makes the decisions." Then the tomato-faced veteran, 39, limped off humming a song called "Billy, the Red-Nosed Wobbler," bursting into lyrics for the final verse: "Billy, with your nose so bright, won't you lead my team tonight?"
Defensive end Coy Bacon called a reporter to criticize his teammates for "not putting out, having no pride and no respect for their coaches." He denied dissention on the team, but added: "These gutless wonders deserve a basket of switches for Christmas."
It is unclear how the Redskins could make the playoffs now, but Allen offered one theory: "Maybe California will fall into the Pacific Ocean, leaving the Los Angeles Rams' spot open," he said.
A more plausible alternative was offered by a source close to the team who said that exhaustive accoustical studies on game films of the Redskins' 20-17 loss to Atlanta on Dec. 10 prove "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that Washington defensive end Ron Mcdole was not offside as charged on the game's fateful next-to-last play.
"The tests indicate that the footstpes across the line of scrimmage on Tim Mazzetti's field goal came from the opposite direction, and McDole could not possibly have committed the penalty," the source said. "This new evidence supports the theory that there was a conspiracy against us, and we hope the NFL will reopen consideration of whether or not we should be in the playoffs."