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Concerning the love for Jack Kent Cooke ...

Before I get to the headline, the John Riggins transcript from his Wednesday appearance on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" has been updated with Riggins's full comments. Perhaps the most interesting additional comment came at the end, when host James Brown asked Riggins if he was worried about tarnishing his legacy as a Redskins great.

"You know, I'm not smart enough to think of that kind of stuff, JB," Riggins said. "Honestly, when it's all said and done, it'll raise my status even higher."

Anyhow, as all of the owner-bashing has crescendoed in recent weeks, adding examinations of the color of the owner's heart, certain wise old-timers have told me how hilarious it is to read about the love for Jack Kent Cooke nowadays. Apparently, there were times in The Squire's tenure when he wasn't particularly well-loved. Out of curiosity, I just browsed through some Post archives, and came across this Richard Morin polling item from July 1994.

The Most Unpopular Celeb in D.C.?

Jack Kent Cooke, noted dog lover and Bolivian-babe magnet, may be among the most unpopular people in town. In a recent Washington Post survey of 808 registered voters in the District, just 17 percent of those interviewed said they had a favorable impression of the Redskins owner, while 59 percent expressed a negative view and the rest weren't sure. Percent of D.C. registered voters with a favorable impression of:

John Ray:............49%
Marion Barry:........46
Sharon Pratt Kelly...29
Louis Farrakhan......29
Jack Kent Cooke......17

Okay, the poll was only among D.C. voters. But to be that far behind Marion Barry and Louis Farrakhan? And at 17 percent?

I also stumbled upon a Ken Denlinger column from January 1981, written after Cooke chased off Jack Pardee. The column's closing line was a classic: "Whoever gets [the head coaching job] just might be as good as Pardee, as a football coach and as a man. He will not be better." Yeah. But there was also this passage:

Pardee's greatest problem might have been remaining himself. He did not stroke the owner's ego, make him privy to strategy. Neither was Pardee good at con. Many coaches would have invented ways to convince the boss they were working miracles with the available players, that nobody can train a mule to win the Kentucky Derby.

Many coaches would have been preaching that daily to the owner, if not to the players and fans. Pardee stayed silent. He wanted to be judged by his record. His record, 24-24, is mediocre. Nobody cared about the extenuating circumstances.

Cooke complained about lack of imagination with the offense, a criticism of the offensive coordinator, Joe Walton, as much as of Pardee. Had he wanted, Pardee could have served Cooke some trickery, ordered a flanker pass after a handoff from the halfback. He could have done that, knowing it probably would fail -- and after it failed said, "Told you so."

So the guy we all love and miss was in the habit of complaining about the boring offense and wanted to be privy to strategy? Really?

And this is from a Tom Boswell column in 1994, in which he compares the decline of the Redskins to the decline of the Orioles:

When the Redskins make up their offseason wish list of high-priced free agent wide receivers and sackmeisters -- rather than humble, lesser-paid people who can block and tackle -- perhaps they should remember Fred Lynn, Lee Lacy and Alan Wiggins. No, perhaps they only need to remember Tim McGee, Al Noga and Carl Banks.

Teams that get desperate begin to make unbelievably bad decisions. And those bad decisions feed on themselves, like a gambler trying to double-up to get even. For instance, last offseason the Redskins just had to get back to the Super Bowl. So they just had to have Reggie White. Which, of course, led to a whole sequence of disasters. And no White.

Chasing after high-priced free agent wide receivers and sackmeisters? No wonder everyone loved the JKC regime!

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 5, 2009; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Debbie Yow discusses Friedgen and Williams


You're reaching Dan. Cooke was a crazy old womanizer, but he was also the guy who crowed about "the most blood thirsty fans in the NFL" after winning each Super Bowl. Snyder has no respect for those who support his business, even at his worst, Cooke never had that problem.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | November 5, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Farrakhan was stationed in Chicago. That's some serious hate for JKC.

Must've been the Seat Pleasant/Palmer Park transplants chiming in on the vote.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | November 5, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cooke must spinning in his grave. He would never treat "the best bloody d*** fans in the world." to a team or a siuationlike we have now. Courtesy of the Poison Dwarf.

Posted by: ridgely1 | November 5, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

That poll would've been written right about the time The Squire was trying to move OUT of DC, so it's not surprising to read that. Context is everything.

Posted by: kingrob76 | November 5, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Maybe JKC wrote his son out of his will and opted to secretly clone himself with a duplicating ray, only to end up with an imperfect version known as Daniel Snyder.

Posted by: LarryBraverman | November 5, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Most unpopular celeb in DC now - Snyder or Lebron?

Posted by: Josh86 | November 5, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

or Crosby?

Posted by: Josh86 | November 5, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

You're so right, ridgley. Except for those last 7 years of the JKC era, when the team was 36-59-1 (a .375 winning percentage). Which was markedly worse than Snyder's 78-89 (.467). When Cooke died, the team was terrible. Under Snyder, the team has been slightly below average. Certainly not good, and clearly nothing compared to Cooke's entire legacy; but the team was decidedly worse in the years before Snyder bought it than it's been since.

The point of course, is that the NFL is cyclical, and even what you remember as being a great owner can preside over a string of terrible seasons (e.g. 4-12 in '93 and 3-13 in '94).

Posted by: jaycane40oz | November 5, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

What a crock Steinberg. Must be a slow day. Cooke brought this team four super bowls and three Lombardis. Was he an eccentric old man? Yeah, he was........But all else pales in comparison to his successful run as owner.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 5, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

This may very well be the best blog entry I have ever read regarding the Redskins. I'd say this entry is a strong argument in the Post's favor of trying to present a balanced view of the team and it's history. I'm sure Snyder and his yes-men will continue to believe the Post is on a mission to destroy the organization. Regardless, I think it's good to be reminded that the past isn't always as great as we often remember it. The best thing Skins fans can do is stop believing we're going to return to being the Skins of the 80s. That period is done, gone forever, and we need to move on. I'd be lying, though, if I said I like the way Snyder runs the team.

Posted by: WAskinsfan | November 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for bringing this up Dan. And good work jaycane40oz. It was JKC that brought us the horror show of Norv Turner (who started out with a 3-13 record, one year after Ritchie Pettitbon was fired for a 4-12 record) and insisted he would be as good as Joe Gibbs.

It was also JKC that chose the location and built what is now FedEx Field.

Finally, when Dan Snyder divorces his wife because she refuses to abort a child he fathered, let me know because you can't pass that off as "eccentric."

Posted by: CapsNut | November 5, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I do remember JKC being hated at times during his tenure. But of course, he did bring us several Superbowls, which certainly pads his resume after he is gone.

Trust me, if the Skins win 13 in a row and bring home the Superbowl this year, Dan Snyder will have a friendly obit too.

Problem is, that will never happen.

Posted by: hackeynut | November 6, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

If anything, to me it says more about the state of the Redskins fan base than any owner past or present. In 1994 the redskins were in ground zero, phase 1 of a rebuilding plan. Prior to that the team was on one of the greatest 12 year winning streaks of all time. The team that WON three superbowls was retiring or finding work elsewhere all within a couple of years of each other. Meanwhile, the redskins coach of the future turned out to be Norv, and the QB of the future became an epic bust.

In 1994, however, the skins only had TWO whole losing seasons in a row. At least the owner was trying to rebuild the CORRECT way, trusting the judgment of his legitimate football GM and coach.

Posted by: jbanks979 | November 6, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I know you like to stir up trouble, Dan, but to compare Cooke to Snyder is unfair. Cooke successfully ran franchises in 3 major sports. More important for our purposes here, as to his ownership of the Redskins, all owners fire coaches (sometimes good coaches) for underperforming.

Cooke inherited a team with a football man in charge and did not make a change until George Allen stepped down. He replaced Allen with one of the best football men around (Bobby Beathard) and allowed him to run the football operations of the team.

As to other aspects of running the organization, dig up an old story about how Cooke's staff members were selling tickets to ticket brokers while a lengthy list of Redskins fans waited patiently on the waiting list for there chance to own seasons tickets; or how Cooke sued Redskins fans because an economic downturn made it difficult for them to continue paying exhorbitant seat licensing fees rather than paying their mortgage and buying food for their children.

Yes, Cooke was a wealthy elite who used his money to buy privelege for him and his family. In his personal life he could be a cad. But there is no comparison that you can reasonably make between Cooke and Snyder in terms of the way they each ran the franchise.

Posted by: rogerward | November 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Show me the JKC poll numbers after we beat Buffalo in the SuperBowl.

Posted by: jgarrisn | November 6, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The Lakers during Cooke's ownership reached 7 NBA Finals and won the 1972 NBA Finals. COOKE BUILT THE FORUM!

While he was owner of the Redskins, Cooke's team won three Super Bowls under head coach Joe Gibbs in 1983, 1988, and 1992. Also, the Redskins have never appeared in a super bowl outside of Cooke ownership. Even in 1972 Cooke was a part owner of the team.

In 1971, he was financial backer of the first Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier boxing match, held at Madison Square Garden and won by Frazier.

He bred and raced a number of successful horses, notably Flying Continental whose wins included the 1990 Jockey Club Gold Cup.


And as far as Jack Pardee, Cooke gave him 3 full years and didn't fire him until after the season was over.

The only reason Zorn has a job is because Shannahan refused to take the job mid-season.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | November 6, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I assume what's coming next is a comparison of positive versus negative stories over each owner's tenure. Call me crazy, but when the Post gets away from cherry picking and looks at the full breadth, I'm guessing JKC will come out FAR ahead of Snyder.

But more to the point, as it turns out, Mr. Cooke was right - and Pardee disappeared into obscurity after he was let go. Or does is my memory playing tricks on me - were there some Superbowls that Jack Pardee won after leaving the Redskins?

Posted by: ndickover | November 6, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

the D.C. government at the time, in 1994, was spinning it like JKC himself was the reason that the skins were possibly moving to PG county, when in reality it was the pure dysfunction of the D.C. government headed by Sharon Pratt Kelly and then Marion Barry that led to JKC moving the home, they made him out to be the bad guy throughout the whole thing to keep D.C. residents on their side, no one politically wanted to be held responsible for running the Skins out of town, come on Dan, how long have you lived in D.C.? do a little research to understand the context...

Posted by: destewar | November 6, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The best year that Snyder has had on the football field was the year that the team built by Cooke's GM Charlie Casserley went to the 2nd round of the playoffs after winning the NFC East division during the regular season.

Cooke's teams went to 5 super bowls winning 3. Yes 5, because Cooke was part owner in 1972 when we lost to Miami. Name any 10 year stretch when a Cooke owned team did not make it to the super bowl.
70's, 80's, 90's all had super bowls.

Snyder hasn't had a single sniff at it.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | November 6, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Frankly it is an odius comparison. JKC took control of Day to Day operations in 1980. In two seasons we had a Superbowl winning season. Within 12 four apperences and three Lombardis.

How did he do that? He let Beathard and Gibbs build a team. Even after Gibbs left he still let the GM do his thing.

If Snyder had done any off this he would not be facing anything near this degree of hostility.

The article mentions our first three FA signings made in the first year of the current FA era. It should not be lost on anyone here that mistakes made when FA as we know it was brand new, are still being made 16 years later. Banks, Noga and McGee were signed to positions we had lost serious talent from and frankly no one knew what kind of a lottery FA would be at that point.

Snyder had six seasons before he even took over to see how corrosive bad FA signings could be. It was all knew to JKC and his GM in 1993.

The fact that Snyder has made high priced signings year on year since he took over tells you all you need to know.

If Dan Snyder hired a GM and stepped back a la Cooke tomorrow. People would adopt a wait and see policy.

By the way search through the archives of this website and time and again you find story after story of a difficult man running sports franchises the right way. There are no comparison stories showing Snyder doing such a thing.

Posted by: flave1969 | November 6, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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