Edward Bennett Williams ended his 23-year association with the Washington Redskins yesterday when he sold his 14.7 percent interest in the team to Chairman of the Board Jack Kent Cooke for an estimated $8 million to $10 million.
The sale, which Williams said he "contemplated for some time," gives Cooke 100 percent of stock ownership in Pro Football Inc., which is the Redskins. The sales-price estimate is derived from NFL franchise market-value figures. Cooke declined comment on the sale.
Williams, who owns the Baltimore Orioles, also resigned as president and general director of the Redskins. Williams' role with the Redskins largely has been ceremonial since Cooke moved to Middleburg, Va., from the West Coast and took over the team in 1979.
"There's a time in the human pilgrimage to let go and move on to the next thing," Williams said yesterday. "I had been with the Redskins for some time. I have no regrets (about leaving)."
Williams, the senior partner in the Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly, was appointed to the Redskins' board of directors in 1962, was named executive vice president in 1965 and became president in 1966.
Although early reports listed his interest in the Redskins as 13 percent, Williams said that he actually owned 14.7 percent.
Williams said the sale, which went to Cooke through one of his companies, "was finalized in the last 48 hours."
Williams has owned the Orioles since 1979 and is their chairman of the board and president. Cooke, meanwhile, has expressed his interest in bringing a major league baseball team back to Washington.
But Williams said the sale should not be interpreted as a harbinger for future baseball dealings between Williams and Cooke.
"There is no baseball connection as far as I'm concerned," Williams said of the stock sale.
Recently, Williams told The Post, "I am not opposed to baseball in Washington, as I have said before."
The stock sale requires approval by the owners of the 27 other NFL teams before it becomes official, said Joe Browne, the league's director of information. A vote is expected at the upcoming league meetings.