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:
Sharon Pratt Kelly...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!
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