While owner Jack Kent Cooke and General Manager Bobby Beathard were holding a meeting without Coach Jack Pardee yesterday, Edward Bennett Williams, president of the Redskins, was strongly endorsing Pardee.
"I have great admiration for Jack," said Williams, who hired Pardee to replace George Allen after the 1977 season. "He came into a very bad situation here, with no draft picks for the future and an aging team. He did so well that it ended up working against him.
"Because he did such a good job with last year's team, it created false and rising expectations for this year. And I thought that since before the season began."
Williams said the process of deciding whether Pardee will keep his job hasn't begun. Regarding the chance of Allen returning, he said, "I don't think that's a possibility."
Since Cooke took over the day-to-day running of the club last summer, Williams' influence has diminished. A decision whether to fire Pardee would be made by Cooke.
The Cooke-Beathard meeting came on a day when it also was learned that at least a half-dozen prominent football figures, including Allen, ex-Raider coach John Madden and USC Coach John Robinson, have received informal feelers regarding the job here, should it come open.Sources would not identify the others contacted, although Ara Parseghian, the ex-Notre Dame coach, has been mentioned frequently in connection with all NFL vacancies.
The feelers were put out by persons both within and outside the Redskin organization. The purpose was to find out if the parties contacted were interested in the position if it came open and if they were willing to hold off accepting other offers until a decision was made here. No one has been offered the job.
Cooke denied having authorized formal overtures to anyone. But league sources say it is normal procedure in situations such as this to line up candidates ahead of time in case there is a coaching vacancy.
Some of the overtures might have been made by associates of Cooke, who acted on their own. Beathard denied having contacted anyone.
"Mr. Cooke has never told me to talk to anyone or has authorized me to do anything in this regard," Beathard said.
Although Madden has said he does not want to return to coaching, he remains a strong candidate because of his close ties to Beathard, his college roommate. One problem with Madden would be his fear of flying, a major reason he quit the Raiders.
Robinson is highly regarded within college circles, but does not have any NFL experience, which could hurt him in Cooke's eyes. Robinson has expressed interest in moving into the NFL this season, and has been mentioned for the New Orleans Saint's job.
Allen, who said Thursday his chances of returning to Washington are remote, still cannot be ruled out. But if he took the job, it would mean that Cooke would have to fire both Pardee and Beathard. Allen and Beathard do not get along, and Allen has made it clear he wants to be both coach and general manager if he returns to football.
Cooke said his meeting with Beathard concerned "draft prospects and things like that." He denied that the subject of Beathard's or Pardee's future with the team came up. "That wasn't the purpose of it," he said, although Beathard cut short a scouting trip to return to Washington.
Although Cooke had said earlier he wanted to talk to Beathard and Pardee at the end of the week to review Pardee's complaints about problems within the organization, Pardee spent the day at his office at Redskin Park. w
Cooke said he still plans to talk to Pardee, but not until after the season ends. The Redskins play their final game Sunday in St. Louis.
The entire Beathard-Pardee situation hinges on what decision Cooke makes once the season ends. He has indicated that nothing will be done until he has had time to thoroughly review the situation.
However, it appears that Pardee, at least, is in serious trouble, something the coach seemed to be acknowledging with his blast Sunday that there were problems within the organization.
Yesterday, Pardee confined himself to preparing for the Cardinals. His players had one of their shortest practices of the year, finishing off a week of deliberately reduced workouts. It was the team's last full-scale practice this season.
"The short workouts have been just right," quarterback Mike Kruczek said. "It's kept us sharp and I think they've got us prepared the right way. At this stage of the season, you don't need to stay out there a long time."
Music from safety Tony Peters' tape deck filled the locker room as many of the players dressed hurriedly and left. "Considering the season, I think everyone is in a good mood," quarterback Joe Theismann said. "Everyone is loose. I don't think we want to get embarrassed, so I don't see why we won't play hard on Sunday."
Pardee had reason to be cheerful. His cold was improved and the mini-epidemic of flu that spread through the team this week appeared to have subsided.
Cornerback Lemar Parrish, who has not practiced all week, attended meetings. Fullback Clarence Harmon showed up at the park, but was sent home to rest. Punter Mike Connell said he felt "much better."
"I think Lemar and Clarence should be okay to play Sunday," Pardee said.
"Right now, I'm counting on them, I just hope no one else gets sick in the meantime. If not, maybe we have this thing licked."
There was one strange twist to the day. Players kept inquiring of reporters about Pardee's future.
"We'll be the last to know anyway," Kruczek said. "But you don't hear that much discussion about it. It's not our business. That's happening on another level."