New Orleans Saints fans expressed their sentiments about Coach Dick Nolan with a shower of paper airplanes in the Superdome Monday night before a national television audience.
This height of ridcule was reached in the 12th loss of a winless season and resulted today in the New Orleans Saints making Nolan a sacrificial turkey. The team's offensive line coach, Dick Stanfel, was named interim head coach.
There was a challenging complication as General Manager Steve Rosenbloom dealt with familiar prospective names of a successor.
The time has come, the National Football League Players Association has been saying, to do something about hiring a black head coach.
Rosenbloom said he would not mention any names until the new coach is picked, but did acknowledge that he had four or five in mind.
After a news conference, he was asked privately about blacks.
"I would say this," he replied. "We're going to consider some."
Did he have any names in mind?
"There are a couple around. We're not so interested in whether they are black or white, anymore than we consider whether a player is black or white. What we want is a bright man who is a motivator."
Two blacks regarded as head coach material are Willie Wood of the Toronto Argonauts and Lionel Taylor, offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.
If Rosenbloom was reluctant to speculate in names, his interviewers were not, and the first mentioned was George Allen, who hasn't had a losing season in 12 as a head coach with the Rams and Redskins.
Rosenbloom said, "I like George. I talked with George. We were neighbors when I was in California. I received calls this morning from coaches. The word gets around."
Rosenbloom said he first would begin his search among college coaches because their season ends first. The name of John Robinson, coach at Southern California, was brought up and Rosenbloom said, "I like John. I don't know his plans. I thought he just signed a new (five-year) contract."
Insiders here say that Rosenbloom had to be persuaded by owner John Mecom to fire Nolan. Mecom did not attend the news conference; he was reported as being busy in Houston.
Rosenbloom was asked if Mecom put Nolan's discharge on a basis of "Nolan goes or you go," and Rosenbloom said that was not true.
It was pointed out to Rosenbloom that the Saints had a 7-9 record in 1978 and 8-8 in 1979, but 0-12 since he joined the orgazination this year and he was asked if his job is in jeopardy.
"No," he said. "My job is not in jeopardy."
Talking to reporters in the Saints dressing room on Monday night after the 27-7 loss to the Rams, Rosenbloom was asked to describe Mecom's feelings. "Well, it was pretty tough to be a loser for the 12th time," he said. "I didn't have this gray hair when I came here."
Asked who went to whom to bring about the dismissal of Nolan, Mecom to Rosenbloom or vice versa, Rosenbloom said, "We both had the same thought at the same time. After the game we looked at each other and it was there. We both had arrived at the same decision independently."
Stanfel was perhaps the best guard the Redskins ever had. He played in Washington from 1956 through 1958 after being voted the most valuable player in the NFL in 1954 and making all-NFT four times as a member of the Detroit Lions, from 1952 through 1955.
He said he would like to be considered as permanent head coach of the Saints. He noted that he would not take the interim job until he talked to Nolan and that Nolan said, "Go ahead, take it."
Stanfel played at the University of San Francisco under Coach Joe Kuharich and under him with the Redskins. Stanfel was an assistant under Kuharich at Notre Dame, later switched to the University of California, was offensive line coach of the Philadelphia Eagles under Kuharich and the San Francisco 49ers under Nolan.