When commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Phoenix owner William Bidwill announced at the NFL meetings here that Phoenix will be host to Super Bowl XXX in January 1996 it was televised live in Phoenix.
The cameras then shifted to the Cardinals' training facility, where Arizona Gov. F. Fife Symington brought Clark, who spent eight years with the Washington Redskins, to the podium to unveil his new Cardinals jersey.
Clark, 30, spoke via television to Bidwill and coach Joe Bugel.
Clark, noted for his temper, said, "[Coach Joe] Bugel said he'd try to get the ball to me as much as possible and I promised to keep my mouth shut."
It was a coup for the Cardinals, who had beaten the Redskins only three times in the past decade, but outbid them for Clark with a three-year, $6 million offer, including a $1.6 million signing bonus.
It is strange news when Bidwill, who has a frugal reputation, outbids Washington's billionaire owner, Jack Kent Cooke, but that's the brave new world of the proposed salary cap.
"I think he's [Bidwill] shaking the label that winning's not important," Bugel said. "It is important to him. I think it tells everybody we're committed to winning. Maybe we'll get to play in one of these Super Bowls."
General manager Charley Casserly confirmed that the Redskins were given a chance to match the offer and declined.
"When you're over the salary cap, you're going to lose some players," said Casserly, who earlier had lost defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers to the Atlanta Falcons.
Coach Richie Petitbon also didn't seem concerned.
"It's just like a big poker game. When the dust settles, I think everything will be all right," he said.
Clark's loss means the Redskins can bid for another player, and they quickly made a three-year, $4.5 million offer to linebacker Bill Romanowski of the San Francisco 49ers, who visited Redskin Park last week. They're also looking at wide receiver Tim McGee of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Meanwhile, Casserly tried to downplay Clark's loss.
"We've got a good group of receivers," Casserly said. "It's probably the deepest position on our team."
Desmond Howard, who caught just two passes in his rookie year, will be counted on to replace Clark.
Clark says it'll take longer.
"I think they're going to try to get Desmond into the game plan. It will be a few years. He'll be a great player in four to five years. I think Washington is going toward younger players. From what I understand, they're not even trying to sign Art [Monk], which makes no sense whatsoever," Clark said.
The Redskins are trying to sign Monk, but only for a modest raise over the $1.1 million he made last year.
Bugel, a former Redskins assistant, said he was surprised when Clark indicated he was willing to join the Cardinals. Last year, another Redskin, Joe Jacoby, visited Phoenix, but then turned down a lucrative offer to remain with the Redskins.
"I didn't want people to come in here and use us to get a better contract someplace else. We didn't want to spend a lot of idle hours in recruiting and all of a sudden get our hearts broken," Bugel said.
But Clark had indicated all along that he'd sign with the Cardinals for $2 million a year. Clark even canceled a trip to the New York Giants once the Cardinals met his demands.
Clark complained the Redskins weren't showing him respect when they only offered him $1 million last year for a new deal and opened talks this year at $1.2 million, although they were willing to go to $1.5 million.
"I heard the turmoil coming. You kind of saw some of it last year when they re-signed some guys and didn't re-sign others," he said.
Speaking of Phoenix, he said: "It's nice to see an organization act like they want you. That's the best part. You treat me with respect and I'll treat you with respect."
Bugel also indicated he'll have no problems dealing with Clark's temperament.
"I think people remember the confrontation he had on the sidelines [with coach Joe Gibbs when he was unhappy he wasn't getting the ball], and I can live with it and cope with it because he's a tremendous competitor. He doesn't mind coming off the field and telling you that he's open and he wants the football," he said.
It's difficult to imagine Clark, who often throws his helmet when a pass to him is overthrown, playing for a team that hasn't won a playoff game since 1947.
But Clark said he's going to change all that. "I'm a player who'll come in and talk some trash to them. I'm going to get in their face. They're going to know we're not going out there to lose. We're going out there to win and this is going to be a team with a winning tradition. It's a great goal," he said.
Bugel said, "He'll become a leader for us."
Phoenix was officially awarded the 1996 Super Bowl in the wake of the Arizona voter approval of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. January's Super Bowl was to be played in Phoenix, but was moved to Los Angeles when voters turned down the holiday two years ago.
The Cardinals weren't the only team passing out big money yesterday. The Chicago Bears paid quarterback Jim Harbaugh $13 million over four years to keep him, and the Green Bay Packers made Miami Dolphins guard Harry Galbreath the highest paid offensive lineman in the game by giving him a deal worth $1.55 million a year. It topped the $1.4 million deal that Brian Habib got from the Denver Broncos.
NOTES: The league is likely to put another roadblock in the way of the Redskins' method of stashing players on injured reserve. They're likely to pass a rule this week that any player on IR would be lost for the season. They'd also allow teams to increase their rosters from 47 to 53 players after the final cut-down, although only 45 and a third quarterback could dress. That would mean teams would have to keep injured players among the 53 if they thought they could recover and play.
Gene Upshaw, the head of the NFL Players Association, and Jim Quinn, the players' lawyer, addressed the owners and then predicted at a news conference that Judge David Doty will approve the settlement on April 16. Quinn said the objections of Wilber Marshall, the Redskins linebacker who's unhappy he was named a franchise player, and complaints from other players are likely to be dismissed. "As of the way things stand, we're confident the judge will approve the whole deal," Quinn said.
The owners authorized a committee to negotiate an extension of Tagliabue's contract, which doesn't expire until October 1994. Pete Rozelle resigned four years ago yesterday, but Tagliabue wasn't named commissioner until October 1989.