The bars and taverns along Pennsylvania Avenue SE between the Capitol and RFK Stadium have long been Redskin turf, and the reaction there yesterday to the firing of Coach Jack Pardee was immediate and vocal.
"You wait and see. Jack Pardee will come back to haunt this town," shouted Mike Vaughn, a season-ticket holder since 1960. He was sipping a beer at Mike Palm's, a favorite pre- and postgame watering hole.
"I think that Jack Pardee is one of the better coaches in football, and I think that in the next five years Jack Pardee's name will be mentioned right up there with Tom Landry and Don Shula as one of the great coaches of the game.
"He's not going to have any trouble getting another coaching job, and in a couple of years when he's coaching winning teams, we're all going to be saying why did we ever let him go."
As the after-work bunch drifted in, news of Pardee's discharge spread quickly. The overwhelming sentiment seemed to be supportive of the embattled coach.
"He really got shafted," was the way more than a few of the Redskin faithful put it.
"This is a tough town to coach in," observed Jerry Milette, bartender at Jenkins Hill, another tavern that for years has run chartered buses to Redskin home games. "You either have to win or you're out. That's just the way it is, but it's tough on a guy like Pardee."
Mike Taylor, 23, a cook at a downtown restaurant and a self-described lifelong Redskin fan, said simply, "I believe he got a bum deal.
"They gave the man a three-year contract. They should have given him a chance to make the team a winner. They put too much weight on his shoulders when it don't belong there."
As the early-evening news flashed across the barroom television sets, the patrons listened to news of the firing. The commentary was frequently disrupted by epithets, most of them unprintable, shouted from barstools.
"Bring back George Allen," shouted one man, lifting a beer in a toast to the rush-hour traffic outside.
At the Hawk and Dove, Ray Gilliam, an aide to Rep. Harold Volkner (D-Mo.), proffered the theory that Pardee was the unwitting victim of his own success.He noted the team finished 10-6 in 1979 with minimal expectations, losing a playoff berth in the final minute of the last game of the season.
"I'm from St. Louis, and I'm not even a Redskin fan," said Gilliam. "But it just doesn't seem fair. He did such a good job his first year (8-8 in 1978) that they expected him to do even better his second year, and they were talking Super Bowl and playoffs and all that last summer.
"He shouldn't be canned for what he couldn't do his second (actually his third) year. I just hate to see Pardee go because I like him as a man and I like him as a coach. When they let George Allen go, they said they were going to have five years of rebuilding. But they got rid of Pardee before he got a chance to really get started."
Mike Openlander, serving up the drinks behind the bar at the Hawk and Dove, wondered aloud, "How can a guy be coach of the year one year and then be fired the next year?"
Passing a tray of drafts down the bar, Openlander said, "I think he did a good job with the personnel he had. And I figure Bum Phillips (former coach of the Houston Oilers) will fit in fine as Pardee's replacement with all these Republicans we've got coming to town."
"Right," chimed in John Williams, a few stools down. "He was made a scapegoat for the team's inability to play together. I think it's pretty rotten but I'm sure he won't be long without a job because he's much too good a coach. He's proved that in Chicago and he's proved that in Washington.
"I've been a Redskin fan for 11 or 12 years, and it's always been one of those things. The Redskins have never been up to the caliber that's been expected of them.I just wish they had gotten rid of (General Manager) Bobby Beathard.
Next door, in the basement at Duddington's, Mavis McCormack, a Redksin fan since the 1940s, lifted a brew and added her voice to the litany of laments.
"I go all the way back to the days of Slingin' Sammy Baugh," said McCormack. "But I feel real badly about this.
"Last year the team wasn't supposed to do very well at all but they showed a lot of promise and I think that was because of Pardee. This year I think he was undermined by (Redskin owner Jack Kent) Cooke.
"It happens all the time when you're being undermined by your boss. Nobody is going to do anything for you. And that's what happened to Pardee. nEdward Bennett Williams never would have done that."