Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
About halfway the through the taping of "Here to the Winner" at Channel 7 Wednesday, Mayor Walter Washington burst into the studio flanked by George McGovern and Duke Zeibert carrying a huge chocolate cake.
The coach wiped the tears from his eyes. His wife wiped the tear from her eyes. You too can wipe the tears from your eyes next Tuesday when Channel 7 airs "Here to the Winner."
"Boy," said the surprised coach, "you really pulled one on me this time."
It was like a wake for the living, and gosh it was sad. At least until the coach picked up a knife and pretended to plunge it dagger-like into the heart of the cake. About 80 people stood around perspiring under the hot lights of Studio A, celebrating with snifiles. It isn't everybody who manages to get feted when he gets fired, but George Allen did Wednesday night.
"I don't know," defensive tackle Bill Brundige told the coach. "It's almost like we're celebrating a colony. You're on TV now. It doesn't seem right."
The coach lowered his head. "I was telling Joe Theismann," he said, "it's hard to get players and coaches to communicate like we did, but we really did have a rapped, didn't we Bill? You could feel it without even talking."
"Coach," said Brundige, "just let me thank you for the seven best years of my life."
"Anything I can ever do for you . . ." said Allen softly.
"And vice versa," said Brundige, just as softly.
One by one, they all trooped up to him, paying their respects: kicker Mark Mosaley, who get an autograph ("You're a winner. Mark"): quarterback Theismann, who finished autographing someone's dollar bill and then advised the coach to takecare of himself ("And good luck to you and your family," replied the solemn coach): newseaster Paul Barry, who got two autographs for his pains: wide receiver Frank Grant, who informed the coach, "You're going to be successful whatever you get into."
The coach nodded. "The tough thing, though," he told Grant, "is to get guys like you who work well together and have a warm regard for each other."
The question now, though, is not whom the coach will get out what kind of job he'll get and where he'll go next. The answer to that was supplied by Allen's 24-year-old son Greg.
"Whether he gets the job (with the Los Angeles Rams) or not," said the son, "we'll probably end up in L.A., once the school year is over."
The young man grinned sardonically. "All the realtors have been coming over. Soon as they heard he got fired they started saying, 'When can we take over your house?' But at least he's not worried. There's always a demand for a good coach."
But the coach, when asked if he was nervous, replied, "Oh, a little, I'm not bitter though," he said, "but I was hurt."
And finally, it's like the coach's wife, Etty, said, quoting La Martine: "To leave is to die a litte."