George Allen not likely to make Hall of Fame


January 06, 1991|By VITO STELLINO

After George Allen died of cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve, his lawyer said he'd begin a campaign to get Allen into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tony Capozzola said: "The simple fact is, his record is better than anybody in the Hall of Fame with over 100 victories. So the question is: Why isn't he in there?"

As long as he asked, here's the answer: He never won a championship. He got to one Super Bowl and lost it, and had his team so uptight before the game (the 14-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins after the 1972 season) that his methods became a primer for other coaches on how not to coach in the Super Bowl.

Coaches are judged on how many titles they won, and Allen falls short in that category.

Allen will go down in history with the Chuck Knoxes, John Robinsons and Marty Schottenheimers of the profession: sound, solid coaches who win a lot of games, but no titles.

Allen is also in line behind Bud Grant of the Minnesota Vikings, who took his team to four Super Bowls and lost them all. A stronger case can be made for Grant, who was 3-0 against Allen in playoff games, and Grant hasn't been elected yet.

This year, Allen has the sentiment going for him, but the voting to cut the list to the 15 finalists was done before he died. It will be announced Thursday.

Unless Allen makes it to the final 15 (he didn't make it last year, although he has made it in the past), he won't be considered this year when the voting is done on the day before the Super Bowl.

Allen's career was tarnished by his teams' having decided they'd rather lose without him than win with him.

He wasn't above trading the same draft pick twice, and was a caricature of the obsessed football coach.

He once said: "Everybody should have some leisure, and the early-morning hours are the best for this. You can combine two good things at once -- sleep and leisure. Leisure time is that five or six hours when you sleep at night."

He had three head coaching jobs in the NFL and lost them all.

The late Dan Reeves first tried to fire him in 1968 as Los Angeles Rams coach after back-to-back 11-1-2 and 10-3-1 seasons. A player revolt against the move led Reeves to back down and give Allen a chance to finish the final two years of his five-year contract.

When Allen finally was dismissed after the 1970 season, Edward Bennett Williams, who then was running the Washington Redskins, hired him.

Williams came up with the definitive line about Allen: "I gave him an unlimited budget, and he exceeded it."

Allen lasted seven years in Washington. He invented the "Over-the-Hill Gang" and the slogan, "The Future Is Now."

But Williams fired him after the 1977 season, and Allen returned to the Rams and lasted two exhibition games before Carroll Rosenbloom fired him.

Despite his .681 winning percentage (118-54-5), Allen never got another NFL head coaching job.

Because his methods didn't bring championships, no owner wanted to put up with him again.

He may have just as much trouble getting into the Hall of Fame.


More Hall: When the final 15 are announced, John Riggins is expected to make the cut in this his first year of eligibility.

It will be interesting to see if tight end John Mackey of the Baltimore Colts makes the final 15 again this year.

That Mackey hasn't been elected even though he's been a finalist has been the subject of much debate, because he was the prototype tight end, and only one tight end, Mike Ditka, has made the Hall of Fame.

Some observers feel that Mackey hasn't made it because of his work as president of the players' association.

Others feel that columnist John Steadman of The Evening Sun has played a key role in keeping Mackey out. One of the 30-man board of selectors said that when Steadman presents Mackey, he gives more reasons against the election of Mackey than for it. That apparently includes his contention that Mackey wasn't a good pass-catcher. Steadman denies having that much influence on the other selectors.

Another controversial nominee would be Al Davis, the managing general partner of the Los Angeles Raiders. Davis is expected to make the final 15 again, but is thought likely to fail again.

Although he has enough support to get to the final 15, there are enough board members who will keep him out for moving the team from Oakland.

As one board member said: "There'll have to be half-a-dozen funerals, including mine, before he gets in." It takes about 80 percent of the vote. Four to seven finalists voted in each year.


The coaching derby: As expected, two head coaching jobs opened last week, when Jim Shofner of the Cleveland Browns was kicked upstairs to a personnel job and Rod Rust was fired by the New England Patriots.

Richard Williamson, the interim coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, figures to be fired this week to open another job.

There's also a new candidate making the rumor mill: former Maryland coach Bobby Ross, now at Georgia Tech.

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