Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke bluntly told Coach Jack Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard yesterday that he expected them to rekindle the team's "will to win and spirit of determination," starting with Sunday's game against Philadelphia.
Asked what would happen if he did not see an improved spirit from the Redskins, Cooke said, "My attitude now is that I will wait and see if they are successful. That is all I want to say for now."
Cooke's comments came after a lengthy meeting at Redskin Park with the club's two main front office figures, who, team sources say, disagree over how the team should be rebuilt.
Cooke went into the meeting upset over what he thought was a seeming lack of determination, desire, and pride during the club's 35-21 loss Sunday to Chicago. The Redskins, expected to contend for the NFC East Division championship, are 3-7. Cooke said that his talk with Beathard and Pardee "confirmed that there is an air of reality to my fears. They confirmed them." "
But Cooke said he was satisfied that Beathard, Pardee and the coaching staff are going to take steps necessary to reinstate the spirit of determination. "Too many times this season, the will to win has been lacking with this club. I want an air of excitement from the Redskins, I want spirit, I want desire.
"We may not be the best team in the NFL but we are a darn sight better than we've shown. I want this club to prove that they are trying, that they want to win. It's the least they can do to reward the tremendous fans we have in this community," Cooke said.
"I want this community to be proud of the Redskins. But if I'm not proud of them, chances are highly unlikely that the fans are proud of them. This club has the ingredients right now to create pride."
Asked if he expected the Redskins to win a certain number of games the rest of the season, Cooke said, "There was no talk about having to win anything. Of course, I want to win. But my point is, once you have the will to win, it's a natural sequence that you win frequently. But without the will to win, you have nothing."
"Mr. Cooke did not issue any ultimatums," Beathard said. "But he got on Jack and me to generate more enthusiasm and excitement within the club between now and the Philadelphia game. He wanted to know what we could do to salvage the season. That's what he expects us to do. He didn't chew us out, and now it's up to us to get it going."
Team sources say that Beathard and Pardee do not agree totally about the direction the Redskins should pursue, especially regarding the role of younger players the rest of the season.Cooke tried to downplay the problem yesterday, saying he asked both if there was any schism between the two and said they said there is basicaly none.
"That satisfied me for now," Cooke said. "I was satisfied with all the answers they gave me. It was a very successful meeting."
Part of Pardee's and Beathard's differences could be alleviated if Pardee follows through with his decision, announced Monday, to possibly give players "who want to play with enthusiasm" added playing time against Philadelphia. He most likely would give younger players more prominent roles, a move, sources say, Bethard favors.
It is apparent Cooke will not tolerate for long any major disagreements between the two men. Known as an active owner from his days with the Los Angeles Kings and Lakers, Cooke demands loyalty and aggressiveness from his front office. As the Redskins decline, he is becoming more and more involved with the inner workings of the team.
Cooke said he realized that what he has asked of Beathard and Pardee is not easy. "It won't be easy to rekindle the great spirit of the Redskins.
"I didn't ask how they would do it. I didn't have to. They are both professional. It is up to them to revitalize this team. They both accepted the need to do it. And I fully expect they are capable and professional enough to do it.
"It will take every ounce of ingenuity and enterprise from all of them to accomplish what I'm asking.
"I just want some evidence of our desire to win, that's all."