The Redskins placed Billy Kilmer on waivers yesterday, ending an eight-year love-hate relationship the football fans of Washington had with the fierce and fiery quarterback with the wobbly legs and the passes to match.
It also was learned last night that free safety Jake Scott, Kilmer's best friend on the team, had been placed on waivers. Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard would have no comment on Scott.
The Redskins also placed defensive tackle Bill Brundige on the wavier list, a move that was not unexpected because Brundige was not expected to resume his playing career after suffering a serious foot injury late in the 1977 season. Brundige did not play last year and had said he did not expect to be able to play again.
The Brundige move is a bookkeeping procedure and no surprise.
"I guess I expected it after what I read in the papers last week," Kilmer said from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "No, I'm not hurt. I have no animosity. Life goes on. but I'm sure not ready to quit playing. Somebody's got to need a quarterback who can still move a football team. I'll try to hook on somewhere."
The Redskins decided to cut Kilmer, a 16-year National Football League veteran who will be 40 in September, and Scott, a nine year veteran who will be 34 in July, in two more moves to add new, young talent to the team. In Kilmer's case, it will be a costly decision.
If Kilmer does not play for another team next season, the Redskins must pay his entire salary-$250,000-because he is on the last year of a guaranteed contract. If another NFL team claims Kilmer in the next 10 days, that club would have to pay Kilmer's entire salary, and that is not expected to happen.
If Kilmer clears waivers after 10 days, he becomes a free agent who sign with any team. Under terms of his Redskins contract, however, Washington would have to make up the difference if Kilmer signed for anything less than $250,000.
"It was not a decision that overjoyed me," Redskin Coach Jack Pardee said of the move to cut his old teammate, a man who won 51 of the 70 games he started at quarterback in Washington. "I have all the respect in the world for Billy, as a player and as a person.
"But it's the time of year when decisions have to be made. We have two months before we have to go to training camp, and there's only so much work you can give each man. From the kind of team we have, and what we are trying to do, well, Billy's mobility is so limited.
"His knowledge of the game and his intelligence were great, but we didn't feel it was enough to compensate for other things. On some other teams, he still might have some value. But for us, we're going in a different direction."
Three younger men figure heavily in Pardee's poe Theismann, who started 14 games last season, will go into camp as No. 1. Kim McQuilken, acquired last reason from Atlanta, will be the backup. And Gary Valbuena, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound free agent from Tennesses signed Monday, will be given a chance at clipboard duty.
Scott, who lives in a remote Colorado mountain town, was not available for comment last night.His release, like Kilmer's, was no surprise, even thought he started all 16 games for the Redskins last season.
Scott was considered a divisive influence on the team last year. One team official descirbed his attitude as "poisonous."
Scott came to the Redskins in the preseason of 1976 in a trade with Miami for Bryant Salter, and was considered a wicked hitter who relied more on savvy than speed to play his position. The Redskins had hoped to make a trade for Scott before spring training began but were unable to consummate a deal. His contract is not guaranteed and the Redskins are not obligated to pay him off.
The Redskins probably will turn to third-year player Mark Murphy at free safety, although Donnie Harris, a reserve strong safety last season, also should get a good look.
Kilmer was informed of the decision to place him on waivers yesterday morning by Beathard. He and Pardee met several times last week to decide Kilmer's fate here, and made up their minds finally in a meeting Monday night.
"Billy took it like a man," Beathard said. "I told him Jack and I had met and that this was the direction we were going to take.
"His age was one big factor.
"It was also obvious that Joe and Billy did not get along and that wouldn't have helped the team. Do you get rid of Joe, a younger quarterback with ability? I don't think so. We're going to give Joe the opportunity to prove he's the quarterback we hope he is. It might have been tough for Joe with Billy here again. That's not a knock on Billy, it's just the way it was.
"I have nothing negative to say about Billy Kilmer. He was a smart football player and the thing you admired about him was guts and leadership and football intelligence. They outweigh any physical disadvantages. It's a move we just felt we had to make for the team."
Kilmer said he fully understands the Redskins' motives in ending his career in Washington, "a town I'll always be a part of.
"I'm just so happy to have had the kind of association with the city and the team that I had," he said. "I'll remember those years, the great years with George Allen. You'll never see a team like that again, you'll never see an era like that again. But everything has to end sometime.
"But I believe I can still play somewhere. There was nothing last year to indicate that I still can't play. When I indicate that I still can't play. When I was in, I moved the team. My arm feels great. I've been on a fish and vegetable diet and I'm just about 200 pounds.
"I can play.
"The highlights? You could single out a lot of games - beating Dallas so many times, beating them (in the National Conference championship game) in 1972 and getting to the Super Bowl.
"But the real highlight was playing for George and playing with the guys on the team. We all felt like we were part of the community, that people really cared about us differently than maybe they did in some other cities.
"Sure I was booed, but that happens to everybody. The love-hate part of it I attributed to the press. I think most people realized we were all in this together and we tried to do everything we could to win.
"I don't think I caused Theisman any problems on the field, in practice or in the meetings. We didn't socialize because we were different ages and we had different interests.
"I'd try to help him if he asked, but he never asked, but he never asked. We never had any fights, we never had any shouting matches. But I guess somebody thought there was a problem.
"All I know is those teams under George had so much enthusiasm and so much character. I hope these new guys can carry it on, but I don't know if they can. They've got a hell of a challenge to match those teams."
For all his professional career, challenge was the name of the game for Kilmer, a shotgun-formation quarter-back at San Francisco in his early years who ran the football better than he threw it until a car wreck very nearly ended his career in 1963.
But always, Kilmer came back. He survived the accident and four night-marish years as an expansion team quarterback in New Orleans before Allen rescued him Jan. 28, 1971, a date that marked the first great step in Allen's revival of the redskins.
Kilmer was the first man Allen acquired when he took the job coaching the Redskins, sending linebacker Tom Rousell and fourth and eighth round picks in the 1972 draft to the Saints. Later, Allen always said that deal was the best steal I ever made."
Though he had to battle every year for his position, either with his friend, Sonny Jurgensen, or later Theismann, Kilmer was the man most responsible for the Redskins' five playoff appearances in Allen's seven-year reign.
After Jurgensen ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the seventh game of the 1972 reason, Kilmer came off the bench and led the Redskins to six straight victories and their only Super Bowl appearances. In the NFC championship game against Dallas, which the Redskins won, 26-3, he completed 14 of 18 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns in a memorable performance.
In 1973, he staggered out of a hospital bed to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the season finale, then came out of the hospital again the following week to start a playoff game against Minnesota. The next week he underwent major surgery to have intestinal blockage removed.
"It's been a lot of fun," Kilmer said yesterday."But I still don't think it's over for me."