The man on the radio blaring in the background announced that President Carter had just returned to Washington from Camp David. "Big deal," yelled an exuberant automobile salesman yesterday, "we've got Jack Pardee right here at Springfield Toyota."
Pardee, the former Washington Redskin coach hired Saturday as the new San Diego Charger assistant head coach, spent three hours yesterday afternoon saying goodbye to well-wishers at the Springfield dealership.
Dressed in gray tweed slacks and crew neck sweater, Pardee sat behind a desk in the corner of the showroom and shook hands, signed autographs and chatted with an estimated 1,000 fans, discussing topics ranging from Jimmy the Greek's predictions ("They weren't very accurate") to why he wouldn't let his quarterback pass the ball more ("We didn't give him enough protection").
"I'm glad to come out and say goodbye to all you people who have supported the team so faithfully," Pardee told one man. "Plus, it gave me a good opportunity to get out of the house. I've been driving my wife Phyllis crazy the last couple of weeks."
For most of the three hours, Pardee accepted congratulations for his recent appointment as assistant Charger coach. "I'm just glad to remain active in professional football," Pardee said, "because the complexion of the game can change so quickly.
"I didn't want to be a head coach just to be a head coach. Anyway, the phone might never ring. I hadn't even thought about getting back into coaching yet, but San Diego was the only team I would really consider going to."
Nat Allbright, an advertrising executive and local broadcaster, came up with the idea of "giving the average fan a chance to come by and say goodbye to the man.
"Everybody always has an introduction for incoming coaches," said Allbright, "but nobody ever made available a guy who has been let go. He became popular here as a player and that popularity increased in his three-year tenure as coach. So we wanted to have a day for him. We called Jack, told him about the idea, and he said 'Sure, whatever you say.'"
Gabriel Pica, Springfield Toyota's general manager, said Pardee has had free use of one of their autos -- a brown Supra, as is the case with team General Manager Bobby Beathard and several Redskin players. But Pica insists television viewers won't see Pardee on any commercials jumping up, clicking his heels and asking Jack Kent Cooke, "Was it me, or my Toyota?"
Many parents brought their Redskin-jersey-wearing youngsters to meet Pardee. "I told Mr. Pardee that he's the greatest coach the Redskins ever had," said 12-year-old Mark Dunham. "They messed up when they fired him."
Pardee fielded all the compliments gracefully, but blushed slightly at an assertion by one man that "if you had been San Diego's defensive coordinator this season, the Chargers would be in the Super Bowl instead of Oakland. With Coryell's offense and your defense, the Chargers will have the two best minds in football."
When the same man said, "it's a bummer" that Pardee will have to leave his Unison, Va., home for the West Coast, Pardee agreed, then added; "The moving firms in California must love it, though, first Ronald Reagan, now me."