With this made-for-television league finally moving from the still-photo stage into technicolor motion and with former ESPN emperor-turned-league commissioner Chet Simmons doting from the dais, Dick Myers said the final decision was not so hard, after all.
"I have always wanted to build a franchise from the ground floor up. I'm very excited about this opportunity," Myers, 36, said at a press conference yesterday, after being named the general manager/senior vice president of the Washington entry in the new United States Football League.
Berl Bernhard, owner of the Washington franchise, said of Myers, formerly Redskins assistant general manager: "After searching extensively for the last three weeks, going all over the country, we returned home to find the right man."
Bernhard also announced that James M. Gould has been named the team's president. Gould, 33, said he resigned his position as president of the USFL's Birmingham Stallions (a job he accepted 36 days ago) to come to Washington. He said with a smile about his chameleon-like summer work experience, "I guess you could call it the league's first trade."
The team name will not be announced for several weeks, according to Bernhard, who said many possibilities are being considered. He said the team colors will be white, black trim and emerald green.
Thinking about a very different kind of green--the one of denominations, not hues--Bernhard reiterated, "As of noon today, people can call for season tickets. The number is 429-9400."
Bernhard said the new coach will not be announced for two to three weeks, breaking his previously set deadline of Friday. "I know I told some of you we would name the coach this week, but it is important to give Dick Myers and Jim Gould an opportunity to review my recommendations and to give their views," he said.
Meanwhile, Walter Melvin, attorney for Jimmy Raye, Atlanta Falcons receivers coach, said that his client has turned his attention away from Washington and toward Friday's official opening of the Falcons' training camp.
Melvincommented about Raye, whose hold on the "leading candidate" position for the Washington USFL head coaching job is slowly melting away: "Jimmy has changed his emphasis. He isn't sitting and waiting here in Atlanta to hear from Washington. If the offer comes, he's interested. In essence, Jimmy has left his holding pattern and has moved ahead to the Atlanta Falcons."
As Myers spoke yesterday, pictures of Sonny Jurgensen and Bobby Mitchell were over his shoulder on the Touchdown Club wall. Ten years of front-office experience with the Redskins, from George Allen to Joe Gibbs, are now in his past.
Myers is fully aware that this change is more acute than simply and unemotionally transferring "Redskins assistant general manager" from his business card to his resume.
Myers said, "Obviously, this is a happy day for me, but it is tinged with sadness by cutting my ties with an organization I have been with for 10 years. Bobby Beathard is a great general manager and a great friend."
Bernhard also announced that the team's partners include Washington businessmen R. Robert Linowes, Richard Hindin, David Pensky and Ronald B. Natalie, as well as Milton Maltz and Carl Hirsch, who is the chairman and president of the Cleveland-based Malrite Communications Corp., which owns local broadcast rights to Cleveland Browns games.
Looking beyond next week's USFL organizational meeting in Denver to the season opener next March, Gould let his creative and entrepreneurial juices flow.
If possible, Gould wants to arrange a season opener against Chicago in RFK Stadium. That event, if it happens, would bring George Allen, Chicago's coach and general manager, back to Washington.
Gould figures a season opener such as that could be the genesis of making the USFL, the new league with the stars-and-stripes logo, last forever. "It would be an exciting beginning," he said.