No matter what the Redskins do this Sunday, Jack Pardee is gone. This is not a news report. This is deduction. All signs suggest the sad ritual dance of a football coach about to be fired. We see the team owner publicly knocking the coach, by inference if not directly . . . we see the general manager putting distance between himself and the coach to protect his own job . . . and now we see the coach, after two months of unrelating pressure, finally coming loose at the edges.
Pardee is sinking and no one is throwing him a life jacket.
Not the owner, Jack Kent Cooke.
Not the general manager, Bobby Beathard.
Not the players.
Except from Pardee.
Who is screaming.
Of all the signals that Pardee's time is up, his scream in the morning paper Monday is the clearest. The angry speech was so far out of character for this stoic that it must be seen as more than just a coach's popping off. He said he would quit the Redskins unless there were "changes" made in the organization. While he wouldn't define the changes, clearly he was demanding action by the owner, Jack Kent Cooke.
Maybe Pardee wants a new general manager in place of Bobby Beathard, with whom he has significant differences of opinion on players.
Maybe Pardee, who said "speculation" about his future interfered with the team's preparation each week, wants Cooke to butt out. The owner said after 10 games he wanted to see more "spirit." Though the team has won two of five games since then, Cooke continues to say he "does not know" if Pardee will be back next season. Such talk, Pardee implies, is ruinous because it undermines his authority.
The sound I heard as I read the morning paper was of the final nail being driven into Pardee's coffin.
Cooke, who for nearly 20 years owned major league hockey and basketball teams as well as the Redskins, has called Bobby Beathard "the best general manager I've ever had in any sport."
The owner has said nothing much good about Pardee lately.
So if Pardee is picking an intraoffice fight with Beathard, he may be picking on the wrong guy at the wrong time. A coach declares war when he is 10-6, not 6-10. And if Pardee is telling Cooke he is fed up with the owner's public declarartions of indecision, we must ask this: When did a coach last fire an owner?
As brilliant a technician as Pardee is -- no dummies become the NFL coach of the year twice in five seasons, as he did with two different teams -- the old Redskin linebacker yet will be fired for the single reason that invariably gets coaches fired. His team lost too many games in a season of great expectations.
Perhaps another coach could survive a 6-10 season when the owner spoke in July of going to the Super Bowl. Perhaps a smooth politician, a con man extraodinaire, such as Our Favorite Coach in Exile, could sweet-talk Cooke into believing such a season was a success considering all the difficulties.
It has been a difficult season beginning with John Riggins' desertion in training camp. Cooke's properly unyielding stand against any Riggins' holdup robbed the Redskins of a 1,000-yard rusher, crippling the offence. Mark Moseley's inexplicable early season slump took away the single strongest element of the team. Injuries in the offensive line left Joe Theismann running for his life and Clarence Harmon looking for a fallout shelter.
Our Favorite Coach in Exile might have pleaded his case so persuasively that Cooke, in tears, would give him a new five-year contract.
Because Pardee is no such politician -- fact is, he demands to be judged by performance, not image -- he will not sweet-talk Cooke into keeping him on the job. And if Cooke is to judge Pardee only by performance, then the coach is in trouble because not many teams fall from grace so completely without the coach being fired. A year ago, the Redskins were a minute away from the playoofs. This year, they are a light year away.
The philisophic differences with Beathard may be part of Pardee's problem.
The Riggins thing, the injuries, Moseley -- all are part of Pardee's longest season. So are the coach's technical failings. While Pardee is as decent and honorable a man as ever worked in pro football, which separates him from Our Favorite Coach, Pardee yet is a twin to OFC when it comes to devising game plans. Teams win with offensive daring nowadays, but Pardee insists on a Neanderthal offense designed only to eliminate the chance of mistakes.
The Redskins are terminally predictable when, if they are to win with middling abilities, they must be unpredictable.
All this hurts Pardee. But in the end, it says here, he will be out of a job because he was too much the technician and not enough the inspiration.
The players speak kindly of Pardee but not passionately. He is all right, they say, but they don't rail against the idea he will be fired. Pardee's shameful disregard of Ken Houston on Sunday is symptomatic of his inability to touch and inspire his players.
If Pardee is so insensitive as to what moves people that he would leave Ken Houston on the bench all day on the last home game of a career that marked him as the best strong safety ever -- if the coach doesn't care enough about his players to give Ken Houston a final, unforgettable moment in the sun, then that coach ought to expect his players to play a flat and uninspired game every day. He deserves no better.
It is, then, so much horsefeathers when Pardee blames the newspapers for the flat, uninspired game. He said stories of talking about roster changes next year disrupted the team the morning of the game. If he had done his job of motivation all week, his players would not be off their oats by reading the morning paper.
When Pardee talks that way, he sounds like Our Favorite Coach.
Which is, of course, no compliment.