The next time his Washington Redskins win a Super Bowl, team owner Jack Kent Cooke says, he will turn the team over to his son John, 43, now the team's executive vice-president.
Or perhaps, Cooke says, he will turn the team over to his son after the Redskins next appear in a Super Bowl.
Or perhaps, Cooke says, he will turn the team over to his son after the moguls of major league baseball decide to grant Cooke a franchise in Washington.
At that point, the 72-year-old optimist says, "I will move over to the operation of the baseball club, and John will run the football club exclusively.
"I am phasing myself out gradually now," says Cooke, who, make no mistake, is the man who runs the Redskins and is the person to whom Coach Joe Gibbs, General Manager Bobby Beathard and son John all report.
"John is becoming increasingly important in the operation of the Redskins and has relieved me of a good 50 percent of the supervisory work and management work heretofore," Cooke says.
One thing seems certain: at some point, John Kent Cooke will run the Redskins.
One other thing seems certain: that transition won't occur until Jack Kent Cooke -- who, with a reported net worth of $600 million, according to Forbes Magazine, is the wealthiest owner in the National Football League -- says it will occur.
Ask John Kent Cooke if it is difficult waiting for the time when the Redskins will be his to lead and he responds, "Waiting? Do you mean is it difficult being my father's son?"
Well, okay, is it?
"In many ways it is, but, all in all, I'm a very lucky fellow," he explains. "As I said, I don't think there is anybody alive who is more knowledgeable of professional sports in the country and, in my opinion, in business, than my father.
"To be his son and to be as close to him as I am . . . is very much like the painter learning under the master . . . (Someday) I want my father to see that these years that I have spent with him have not been wasted, that I have paid attention and that I have learned my lessons well.
"The second generation (of sports owners) is coming along now, people like Peter O'Malley," he adds, speaking of the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Peter doesn't get into the news as much as his dad (former Dodgers owner Walter) was. I don't think that (New York Giants owner) Wellington Mara is in the news as much as his father (Tim) was when he had the Giants.
"I think that's what you'll find with the Redskins. When I take over, you won't see me as visible as my father has been."
Jack Kent Cooke has one other son, Ralph Kent Cooke. He is not mentioned when his father discusses the Redskins' future. Ralph sided with his mother, Cooke's former wife, in a 1979 divorce. In the recent editions of "Who's Who in America," Jack Kent Cooke lists himself as having only one son, John.
As the team's executive vice-president, John Kent Cooke has daily discussions with Beathard, keeping abreast of scouting activities, contract signings, contract negotiations and potential roster moves. He also attends various league meetings.
"I'm really my father's representative here at Redskin Park," he says. "See, I'm 43 years old and I've been with him obviously for 43 years and in business since Dad had the Lakers and Kings (in Los Angeles) and I worked down there as the vice-president.
"So I pretty well know how he wants to operate his football club. If something comes in where I know how he would handle it, I handle it that way. If I have any questions about anything, I get on the phone and call him. I know where he is at all times, as he knows where I am at all times."
John Kent Cooke spends two of his five working days a week at his father's office, where his father "keeps me informed of everything that he is doing with the other companies that he has.
"The most obvious thing is the Chrysler Building (in New York City)," John Kent Cooke says, noting his father also owns the Kent Building on Third Avenue in New York as well as Kent Plaza in Phoenix.
"We have offices in New York and everything is tied by computer to his head office at Kent Farms (in northern Virginia)," he adds.
"Everything here (with the Redskins) is run on a business-like basis even though it is not the best business in the world as far as a return on the value of your business. As Dad said, if (the team) is worth $50 (million), $60 (million) or $70 million, if you put that money in the bank you're going to be getting 10 percent anyway, so it would be $5 million to $7 million, whatever the range is.
"But we sure as hell don't make that kind of money. The important thing to remember -- and this is why my father loves it so and this is why I'm here rather than at the Chrysler Building in New York -- is that it is a hell of a lot of fun.
"The important thing is for us to win and the second most important thing is to run it in a very efficient way, in a business-like way, and we do that."
John Kent Cooke adds, "I look forward to the day when I'm running the club. As I told you, I can do whatever I like to do and this is what I like to do best."
Jack Kent Cooke owns 85.7 percent of the Redskins and Edward Bennett Williams, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, owns the remaining 14.3 percent. Although he is president of the Redskins, Williams appears to have little involvment in the team's day-to-day operation.
"He has not been (involved on a day-to-day basis)," Jack Kent Cooke says, "since I came from the West Coast (in 1979)."
Despite there being no indications major league baseball has definite plans to expand, the Cookes remain optimistic a franchise will come to Washington, in time. They talk of "when," not "if."
Jack Kent Cooke says he has spoken with Williams about the push to obtain a National League franchise for Washington.
"I talked with him at some length about it, and he understands that it is almost inevitable that Washington will get a National League franchise," Cooke says. "I pointed out to him that I believe sincerely that the National League franchise in Washington will heighten the interest in both the Orioles and the (prosepctive) Senators."
Williams did not return several calls to his office.
Each time there is mention of Jack Kent Cooke obtaining a baseball franchise there also is talk that he might build a new stadium, too.
To which he says, "There may be talk, but Jack Kent Cooke has never considered building a stadium. Jack Kent Cooke has been approached by at least three different syndicates offering to build a stadium if the Redskins would enter into a contract to use that particular new facility. At this moment, the Redskins have not agreed to enter into such a contract. Meantime, I reaffirm that we will honor the provisions of the contract (at RFK Stadium, which extends through 1990)."
He said building a new stadium is "a possibility," adding, "If a stadium was built, it will definitely stay in the greater Washington area. The greater Washington area is the market area of the Redskins; in other words, it's not Richmond or North Carolina. The greater Washington area is D.C., it is Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia and that's it.
"Who knows what's going to happen?" John Kent Cooke says, addressing his future, his father's future, the future of baseball and perhaps the future of a new stadium in Washington. "For instance, my father could get the baseball franchise and he could find that it requires more of his time than he originally thought and therefore ask me to take on more of the responsibilities here (at Redskin Park) and in effect run this club.
"It could be that he gets an investment that requires more of his time than either the Senators or the Redskins require of his time. Therefore, he's got to spend more time on that, don't you see?
"I don't know what the future will bring," he says, shrugging in his Redskin Park office. "Do you?" -- --
It seems likely the Redskins will activate wide receiver Charlie Brown from the injured reserve list for Sunday's game against Buffalo at RFK Stadium. After yesterday's morning practice, Coach Joe Gibbs said he was pleased with Brown's progress in returning from a stress fracture in his right fibula.
Gibbs said it is "very unlikely" running back Joe Washington (strained knee) will be activated this week. "Joe's got to roar. We want to make sure he's ready (before reactivation)," Gibbs added.
Injury update: defensive tackle Dave Butz (flu) was at team meetings yesterday but did not practice. Trainer Bubba Tyer said Butz will "definitely" will practice today. Cornerback Darrell Green, who has a groin injury, limited his workout.