Jack Kent Cooke, the majority owner of the Redskins, said yesterday he was "seriously and sincerely convinced that you will see a turnaround in our fortunes" before the end of the current season.
Cooke, who had predicted in training camp Washington would be in the Super Bowl this year "barring injuries and unfortunate incidents," said he was concerned and disappointed about the Reskins' 1-4 start but added:
"Everyone in the Redskin organization is concerned about what happened, but we are trying to take all possible corrective steps to rectify this present condition.
"I want to be as unambiguous as possible. There is no panic on the part of anyone. Of course, we are concerned, because we care. But the more you analyze it and the problems we have , the more we want to do everything that (General Manager) Bobby Beathard and (Coach) Jack Pardee ask.
"If we corporate, the better our chances of correcting the situation."
Cooke said both Beathard and Pardee are working to shore up the variety of problems that have contributed to the Redskin troubles, which have severely dampened not only Cooke's Super Bowl prediction, but talk of even a possible playoff berth.
"This team is just too good to continue at this present grade," Cooke said.
"And I think the coaching staff is too good, the whole organization is. I have every reason to believe our coach and general manager are talented enough to turn things around.
"We've got to come out of it. And this isn't a pollyannaish view either."
Cooke later said he thought the team's current plight "can be summed up with one sentence. We have lost a few battles but I still believe we can win the war. Yes, I know that isn't original, but I think it fits us perfectly."
This is the first year that Cooke has been actively involved in the day-to-day administration of the Redskins, although he became a majority stock holder in 1974.
Previously, he had been living in California and Las Vegas while he owned both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings. He left the operation of the Redskins to team President Edward Bennett Williams, the majority stockholder.
But the combination of Cooke's move to Upperville, Va., his decision to sell both the Lakers and Kings and Williams' acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles resulted in a change at the top of the Washington organizational chart.
With pressure from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, Cooke assumed more responsibilities within the club while Williams, while still actively associated with the team, concentrated more on his baseball team.
There long has been concern within the Redskins about what effect cooke's assumption of power would have on the club.
Williams was a patient, benevolent owner who allowed his last two general managers -- George Allen and Beathard -- to have a remarkably free hand in guiding Washington's fortunes. But Cooke had earned a reputation in Los Angeles for his close involvement in personnel matters and his impatience when his teams fail to win. He also was known for his impatience with coaches and general managers who didn't succeed. For example, he had eight coaches in 13 years with the Kings and five in 14 years with the Lakers.
Although Cooke has maintained a high profile, attending training camp practices, keeping in constant contact with Beathard and even showing up during a workout at Redskin Park Saturday, he gave no indication yesterday that the slow start was causing him any more than what he had termed normal frustration.
"I remain an eternal optimist," he said. "That's my nature. There is still a long way to go in this season. There are 12 games left to play and an awful lot can happen in that time.
"I agree with Bobby Beathard's feelling that we have to continue to build for the future, but I even amplify on that. No matter how good you are, you always must worry about the future. Even the Pittsburg Steelers, as good as they are, have to keep stockpiling talent, otherwise they won't stay on top. You can just never stop working and trying to get better."
Cooke's commitment to long-range rebuilding is reflected in the current contract situation regarding both Pardee and Bearthard. Pardee still has two more years left on his original five-year pact while Beathard signed a three-year extension in May to his first three-year contract with the team.
Despite his short involvement with the team, Cooke already has left an imprint. League sources say that cooke's longtime stand against renegotiating contracts was a major reason why the Redskins refused to deal with John Riggins when the fullback walked out of training camp this summer.
Although the coaching staff denies Riggins' absence has contributed significally to Washington's current plight, the team obviously has been unable so far to make up for the loss of his running skills.
But Cooke yesterday said he had "absolutely no regrets whatever" about the club's stand in the Riggins' incident.
"His absence has not affected the team," Cooke said, "and let's leave it at that."
He also said he didn't regret his Super Bowl prediction.
"I qualified it by saying we'd go barring injuries and unfortunate incidents," he said. "I'd do it again, because I believe in the team that we have. This is a fine team and nothing is going to change my mind."
"And let me add that this organization -- and everyone in it -- is as solid as the Rock of Gibralter. We are going to lick this thing. I'm convinced of that."