A Californian of long acquaintance with Jack Kent Cooke believes it will be an upset if Edward Bennett Williams is still the Redskins' president come Christmas. The Californian says Cooke, the team's majority owner with Williams his monority partner, will gently and considerably, but very firmly, push William aside.
"Jack won't embarrass Ed, but Jack will not sit behind the scenes any longer," the man said of Cooke, who this pring sold for $67 million the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings, Forum and a 13,000-acre ranch. "Jack is an overpowering man. It is impossible for me to conveive of Jack and Ed working in the same office. They had the perfect arrangement before -- Jack 3,000 miles away from Ed."
Now Cooke is moving east, to an estate at Upperville, Va., to begin what he has called "my third life." He made his first million in Canadian broadcasting, multiplied his riches in Southern California and now, at 67, has come east. Our man in California presumes Cooke did not move near Washington out of love for the humidity. He says Cooke came to sit on the Redskins' throne.
I don't think so.
Williams is insistent on remaining president of the Redskins. He says Cooke has asked him to stay in the job and he fully intends to -- even to the point of openly daring the National Football League to use its power against him.
As one of the extra added attractions of Williams' purchase of the Baltimore Orioles, we may be witness to a battle of titans: in one corner the celekrated Washington trial lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams: across from him, as smooth as an operator as there is, the National Football League commissioner, Pete Rozelle.
If Williams remains as president of the Redskins and is approved as 100 percent owner of the Orioles, he will be in conflict with what the NFL calls its "traditional policy" against an NFL team boss operating a team in another league. The NFL doesn't want its owners dabbling in soccer, basketball, hockey or baseball; the idea is that a man has only so much energy and it ought to be directed toward the NFL.
While that "traditional policy" is unwritten, a proposed amendment to the NFL constitution would make it a league by-law with provisions for escalating fines against violators.
Rozelles and his minions have made it clear that Williams would be in violation of the "traditional policy" if he insists on running both the Redskins and Orioles.
The NFL has made no threat of kicking Williams out of the league, but it was so adamant about the "traditional policy" that disputes with Joe Robbie of the Miami Dolphins and Lamar Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs led the North American Soccer League to file an antitrust suit against the MFL. Both Robbie and Hunt own NASL teams.
One might expect, then, a Williams-Rozelle confrontation.
All this is important to the Redskins because Williams, over the past decade, has been part of the reason the team became a consistent winner for the first time in its long history. With Cooke's advice and consent, Williams created -- by hiring Lombardi and Allen, by spending freely -- an organization that multiplied six-fold in value, perhaps now worth $30 million.
Williams believed any "confrontation" talk is premature. For one thing, there is the NASL lawsuit still to be heard at trial near Year's end. It could rule the NFL's "traditional policy" illegal. For another, that policy may never be made part of the written constitution. It needs 21 approving votes from the 28 NFL presidents, and William says "seven or eight owners -- Seattle, San Franscisco, Miami, Kansas City, Los Angeles, St Louis -- are already in breach of the 'Traditional policy.'"
Our man is California who has dealt with Cooke for 20 years, says Cooke will take full control of the Redskins "because there is no way he and Ed Williams can get along that close together. It is entirely logical that Williams would buy a baseball team, just so both of them could have their own domain."
Not so, Williams says. Neither Cooke's arrival in the East nor Rozelle's orders will keep Williams away from the Redskins, he says.
"Jack wants me to be president, he's committed to the idea, I feel attached and deeply committed to the Redskins, I want Jack Pardee and Bobby Beathard to succeed, I am sure they will and I want to be a part of it when they do," Williams said.
Williams apparently believes the NFL's traditional policy" cannot stand a test of law. On his work as boss of both the Orioles and Redskins, he said, "I know I have the right to do it, and I do not expect to be intimadated by Mr. . . . ."
Someone said, Mr. Rozelle?"
"Anyone," Williams said. "i do not expect to be intimidated by anyone. I am resting easy. I am not the least bit worried. On my list of worries, this ranks about 86th." CAPTION: Picture, Edward Bennett Williams