Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).
The Curly R is pleased to present the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games, a new series commemorating the greatest moments in my history with the Redskins. And now part 1, Who Is Jack Pardee?
Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Jack Pardee was a bitter bitter man...
One of the famed Junction Boys of Paul 'Bear' Bryant's Texas A&M, linebacker Jack Pardee was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the first pick in the second round of the 1957 NFL draft. It would be nine years, in 1966, until Jack would play for a team over five hundred. The Rams' rookie coach that year? George Allen. The Rams were a winning team all five years George and Jack were there, making the playoffs twice.
In January 1971, Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams beat out three other teams and hired George Allen, recently released by the Rams, as head coach. He succeeded Bill Austin, the interim coach appointed after the great Vince Lombardi stepped down, battling the cancer that would eventually take his life in September 1970.
Days before the NFL draft in April, George traded seven 1971 draft picks and linebacker Marlin McKeever to the Rams in exchange for six players and a draft pick (which was immediately traded to the Green Bay Packers for another player). Among his former players brought to the Redskins in this trade was linebacker Jack Pardee. The Redskins went 9-4-1 in 1971 and to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, and the next year went 11-3 and all the way to Super Bowl 7, losing to the Miami Dolphins despite the stellar play of Garo Yepremian.
All told, Jack would play 15 seasons in the NFL, until 1972. Two years later in 1974, Jack made his head coaching debut at 38 years old with the Florida Blazers of the World Football League. The Blazers had re-located from Washington DC to Orlando Florida at the last minute, robbing Jack of the opportunity to coach a professional football team in the city where he finished his playing career. Jack's team went 14-6 (20-game season) and lost the inaugural World Bowl by one point, 22-21 to the Birmingham Americans. Despite the loss, Jack was named the one and only WFL Coach of the Year.
The next season, Jack made his NFL coaching debut with the Chicago Bears, hired by new Bears GM Jim Finks. Jack's team went 4-10 in 1975, but featured a promising rookie named Walter Payton. They went 7-7 in 1976, and Jack was named UPI NFC Coach of the Year. In 1977, the Bears went 9-5, making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Jack's Chicago teams were known for their solid ground game, but never had better than middling defense.
Meanwhile in Washington, 1977 was the last season of George Allen's original six year contract. An agreement was in place to keep George in town until 1981, but the deal never was done. The Redskins also finished 9-5, and were knocked from playoff contention on a tiebreak in the last week of the season by Jack's Bears.
Edward Bennett Williams, now team president having sold majority ownership to a silent Jack Kent Cooke in 1974, had grown weary of George continually exchanging draft picks for veterans and when EBW learned George had been negotiating secretly with the Rams, he cut off contract talks and terminated George immediately.
In Chicago, Jack had stopped new contract talks with the Bears, believing the ownership had no real commitment to defense. By the end of January 1978, Jack, a favorite of EBW's as a player, had returned with a three-year contract to his Super Bowl team to become the 19th Redskins head coach. EBW made another hire that year: a young Bobby Beathard to be the new general manager.
Jack benched Billy Kilmer, promoted Joe Theismann to starter and committed to John Riggins as the primary back. The Redskins went 8-8 in 1978, and Riggo had over 1000 yards. In 1979, the Redskins finished 10-6 and were blocked from the playoffs by the Cowboys in the final game of the season. Disappointed, Jack could still take pride in being named AP NFL Coach of the Year and in helming the Redskins through the end of their winningest decade since the 1940s.
That loss was a pivotal moment for the Redskins. By 1980, it was apparent that Jack and Bobby were in conflict over the direction of the team. Jack, believing his vision still captured George Allen's winning philosophy from the previous decade, wanted to orient the team around veterans and Bobby wanted to test out the team's younger players.
On top of all this, Riggo walked out of training camp, demanding a raise to his 300 thousand dollar contract. Jack desperately needed Riggo for his offense to work, but Bobby was not open to Riggo's demands. So Riggo walked out of training camp and sat out the year. Jack was forced to go with Wilbur Jackson and Clarence Harmon as his main backs and the Redskins slipped to 6-10.
Jack Kent Cooke, who had taken over day to day operations from Edward Bennett Williams that year, agreed with Bobby Beathard's philosophy and fired Jack after the 1980 season, moving to hire San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs in less than two weeks. Jack was devastated and the last traces of the George Allen mentality were wiped from the team.
Curly R's Redskins Greatest Games continues tomorrow with part 2, What Jack Did.
Linebacker Jack Pardee: from Houston Pro Football here. Bobby Beathard from here. Joe Theismann walking off the field after a season-ending 35-34 loss to the Cowboys that put them in and the Redskins out of the playoffs: Richard Darcey / Washington Post.
Monday, July 16, 2007