Would you believe the people of Dallas gave George Allen a key to their city this week?
"It was history in the marking," deadpanned unemployed football coach Allen yesterday, recalling a luncheon where he was introduced by former Dallas Cowboys tight end Mike Ditka, now a coach with the team that Allen made all Washington hate with a passion.
Dalas rolled out the carpet for Allen, but not in honor of the fact that he isn't coaching in the National Football League at the moment. Rather, the Texas city was just one stop on a nationwide tour by the former coach of the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams, in what Allen described yesterday as another coaching effort.
Using many of the same terms and strategies he emphasized with intensity at Redskin Park and RFK Stadium for seven years-"good teamwork," "everything is competition, setting goals and achieving those goals," "if you think you can run five miles, run five and a quarter"-Allen is trying to drive a team of corporate executives across the nation to a goal of 270,000 jobs for unemployed youths this summer.
Allen is "the first and foremmost national chairman," he said modestly over a glass of skimmed milk yesterday, for the National Alliance of Business (NAB) youth summer jobs program.
In a whirlwind schedule over four days that would tire even the world champion Washington Bullets, Allen has championed the cause of youth this week in Los Angeles, Dallas, Kansas City and Washington.
Today, Allen plans some broadcast interviews on the jobs program, an appointment with his dentist and a trip to Charlottesville, to visit with his son. Next week, it's on to New York City, Minneapolis, Denver and Portland, Ore.
At each stop, the coach is seeking to persuade the local business leaders, government officials and (where applicable) NFL coaches and players to join the Allen summer jobs team.
In effect, the NAB is trying to capitalize on what Allen was able to do in metropolitan Washington for the seven years that he headed the local summer jobs drive and brought Washington into first place every year-even though six metropolitan areas are larger.
After a traditional morning jog yesterday around the Mall and Tidal Basin-where at least one Washington told the coach he looked "better now than before," an obvious reference to the fate of Allen's former team here-Allen demonstrated how to get the job done.
He picked up the telephone and called the headquarters of the McDonald Corp. fast food chain in Hins-
dale, III. After talking for a few minutes with founder Ray A.Kroc, the coach had the type of commitment he Ikes: McDonald's outlets in the D.C. area will provide jobs this summer for 5,000 youths.
It was the largest promise of employment ever made for the Washington area by a single company. In previous years, the most was about 700, Allen added.
In the year before Allen took over the Washington summer jobs campaign chairmanship, area businesses pledged 14,000 jobs. Las year, the local drive found 47,000 jobs-12,630 new hires, 707 rehires and 24,707 inservice positions where student's hired as part-time employes during the school year become full-time summer workers. This is the type of effort the NAB wants duplicated in other cities.
"The program is not organized in other metropolitan areas...D.C. people are active, they don't take honorary titles...there's been good cooperation from large and small businesses. The program became a model for the whole country," he said.
The purpose of the current trip is to bring to the jobs effort in other cities the "visibility and publicity" it's had here, such as a visit to the White House yesterday to talk about summer jobs with First Lady Rosalynn Carter and a luncheon where Allen spoke to an audience that included National Bank of Washington Chairman Joseph Danzansky, woodward & Lothrop Chairman Edwin Hoffman, Potomac Electric Power co. Chairman W.Reid Thompson and, of course, restaurateur Duke Zeibert.
"I still haven't found a restaurant as good as Duke's" Allen said. In fact, he said, he hasn't found a better place to live and work than Washington. "I want Washington to stay in first place in everything...When I come back here, people stop me on the street, it's like you've never been away."
What he's trying to do, Allen added, is "to give other cities the same format" for winning summer jobs-such as creating competition, trying to beat Dallas or encouraging Giant to Beat Safeway in job promises. "Youths need employment; if a youth wastes the summer, there's no telling what can happen," said the promoter of work ethic.
What about his own job outlook? "I expect to be back coaching." This fall in the NEL? "There's a possibility," Allen said.