"The Redskins made nothing but friends all across the country this year," said the team president, Edward Bennett Williams, yesterday. "If ever a team deserved to be in the playoffs, it was this one."
After Sunday's 35-34 loss to Dallas, a game which Williams characterized as "one of the finest games ever played in the NFL," the Washington attorney spoke to the Redskins in their somber dressing room.
"I told the ball club and Jack (Pardee, the coach) and Bobby (Beathard, the general manager) that I'd never been prouder of a Redskin team," said Williams, the team president since 1965.
"Jack and Bobby and the entire coaching staff have done the finest job in the NFL. The team, I know, was broken-hearted after the game. They were weeping in there. What happened to them was one of the saddest experiences young men can have.
"I told them they have nothing to be ashamed of. They performed at the absolute top of capacity."
Williams said the television replays in his owner's box at Texas Stadium appeared to show two seconds to play when the Redskins tried to call a timeout. The timeout was denied.
"Life is filled with 'ifs,'" Williams said. "You can't go back. It's best now to think forward to next year. The team has done such a remarkable job this year. It will continue next year, and with the aid of some draft choices, we'll be very good again."
As for his future with the Redskins, Williams said he has not talked to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle since it was reported a month ago that majority owner Jack Kent Cooke would assume control of the football team in compliance with an NFL policy against cross-ownership of major league teams.
"I have no plans to talk to Rozelle, said Williams, who in November became owner of the baseball's Baltimore Orioles.