NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle yesterday approved the Redskins' request to move their Oct. 7 game against the Eagles from RFK Stadium to Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium to avoid conflicting with the mass Pope John Paul II is scheduled to celebrate on the Mall.
The Oct. 21 game against the Eagles that the Redskins were originally scheduled to play in Philadelphia will be played at RFK. Tickets for the Oct. 7 game will be honored at the Oct. 21 game.
The switch now means the Redskins will play four straight road games -- at St. Louis Sept. 23, Atlanta Sept. 30, Philadelphia Oct. 7 and Cleveland Oct. 14. And that was not particularly pleasing to Coach Jack Pardee.
"I don't like to play four on the road.I like to play at home," Pardee said. "It's difficult to go on the road four weeks in a row.
"But it's more important to have a home-field advantage and with all that will be happening (in Washington) that day, Redskin football will not be the most important thing. At least by getting out of town, it will be the most important happening in Philly that day."
The Eagles agreed to the home-game swap with the stipulation that there be no reverting to the original schedule if the pope's Washington plans are altered, an NFL spokesman said. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m.
Redskin President Edward Bennett Williams, who requested the swap last week, called the decision "a reasonable solution to the problem."
Over a million people are expected to attend the mass, currently scheduled for 3 p.m. The anticipated traffic jams and capacity use of the subway system would have been compounded by the originally scheduled 1 p.m. start of the Redskin game.
Williams said, "Respect for the Holy Father and good citizenship" prompted his request. He said fans might decide to stay home rather than fight the traffic and noted that many may prefer to see the pope, instead.