If you want to know what Shakespeare has to do with John Riggins, and what Jack Kent Cooke has to do with Mel Krupin, you have come to the right place. Right after a few paragraphs of newsy/quasinewsy stuff, we'll get to corned beef, diamond bracelets and what Hamlet said about the Redskins. Hang on, we're going around a corner on two wheels.
Sometime last week, an interviewer asked Cooke to pick the adjective he best liked to describe himself. To which Cooke said, "Living." That was before his Redskins ascended to Super Bowl heaven, and yesterday on a brilliant winter's day at his horse farm outside Middleburg, Cooke found a new adjective. "Rejoiceful." Then he wondered, "Is rejoiceful a word?"
Trips to three dictionaries, the last being the one lifted by a crane, showed that rejoiceful not only is a word but, to judge by Cooke's mood, the precise adjective he sought when he said, "My meetings with Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard should be rejoiceful sessions."
That's because the boss will meet his hired hands to tell them they did such good work they'll get a raise.
Cooke plans to meet soon with Gibbs and Beathard to talk about extending their contracts as coach and general manager. Both have a year left on three-year contracts. Rather than wait, Cooke wants to revise them now.
"I will sit with both Joe and Bobby, individually, and discuss extensions of their contracts with new terms," Cooke said. He would not elaborate.
When Gibbs signed two years ago, The Washington Post reported his salary as $110,000 going to $115,000 and $125,000. Beathard's salary is in that neighborhood (reportedly less than the new USFL Washington Federals pay their coach and general manager).
"I am looking forward to the meetings with Joe and Bobby," said Cooke, who has called the Super Bowl victory "the greatest thing to ever happen to me in sports." Cooke's Toronto Maple Leafs won a minor league baseball title and his Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship. Nice, but hardly enough to cause the president of the United States to meet you at the airport as Ronald Reagan met the Redskins.
"I remembered to call him Mr. President," Cooke said, "but then I turned to his wife and said, 'Gee, Nancy . . . Er, Mrs. President . . . Er.' She started laughing and so did I."
More news: Cooke, 70, has said he would turn over the day-to-day operation of the Redskins to his son John whenever the team made it to a Super Bowl.
"John is now the chief operating officer of the Redskins," Cooke said, "and, in business jargon, I am the chairman of the board." That means the senior Cooke, as always, will set policy and have the last word in major decisions such as hiring/firing coaches and handing out big-money contracts for players. John Cooke, who now has an office at Redskin Park, will control the front office staff.
And the end of the news: Jack Kent Cooke won't take part in the city parade honoring the Redskins today.
"I've had so many fabulous days with this club, I don't need another one," he said. "It's their day, the players and the coaches."
Now, let's get to the corned beef at Mel Krupin's, the downtown power diner. Devoted readers of our Style section know Krupin, long a Redskins' fan, hung a Federals' banner in his place one day. Soon after, Cooke took back the RFK parking pass he'd given Krupin and yesterday said, "Krupin was constantly prating about his loyalty to the Redskins, and then he becomes a turncoat."
"It wasn't just coincidence," Cooke said, that Krupin's weekly delivery of ice cream and cake to Redskins' players was halted and replaced by a batch of ribs from Leesburg.
Krupin professes bewilderment. "I just want to make peace. I'm not fighting him. I'll do anything he wants. I'll even invite him to dinner of corned beef, cabbage and brown bread. He loves it . . . How can there be any disloyalty? There can only be disloyalty if I'm picking sides. If I had a Dallas banner, that's picking sides."
Curiously, Cooke insists he is not sensitive about competition from the Federals, who will begin play at RFK next month. "It isn't competition at all. They're playing at a different time of year. God bless 'em."
Speaking of Shakespeare, as we were, here's what Cooke said when asked if the Redskins' two-year rise from nothing to a championship contained lessons for NFL teams:
"I suppose you could say cooperation, organization, all that--and sound like a pompous ass. Luck, good fortune, I don't know. It's probably what Shakespeare said in 'Hamlet,' 'There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.' I just don't know."
And now another bow to John Riggins, rough-hewn as they come. Last heard, Riggo told reporters in Los Angeles, "Jack's got imagination. Instead of Super Bowl rings, he's going to give us bracelets. We thought, 'Huh?' Then we realized you could get 30 or 40 diamonds on a bracelet. Alllllllll right, bracelet."
Cooke's response, delivered through a roar of laughter: "He's a most unconventional man, that John Riggins, and he's pulling your leg to a fare-thee-well. Of course there will be rings, not bracelets. He's enjoying these interviews now more than you fellows. He's watching and saying, 'How much of this are they believing?' "
Or as Hamlet also said (maybe it was Yogi Berra), "Some sportswriters put two and two together and think it's four."