George Allen came back to Washington yesterday. He wore a smashing three-piece blue suit and new penny loafers and that pug-boy grin that has never been at least of his uncanny facility to arouse loathing or love or something of both.
He came to Washington on behalf of the National Alliance of Businessmen, to help find summer jobs for needy kids, and those who have known him a while said he looked looser, maybe more relaxed.
But his universe is still bounded by a leather oval with laces down the middle.
He stayed in the Sheraton-carlton and got up yesterday-before 7-to jog on the Mall.As he ran past the White House, he said he saw a security guard sitting down on the job. So he jogged over and said, "Hey, how are you guys gonna beat Dalas if you're sitting down?"
Sometimes, he said, showing only the barest flick of sadness, you don't know how good things are until they're finished. He said he never realized how beautiful the cherry blossoms could be.
In a special way, George Allen is Washington's own buzzword. Even now, more than a year after his dismissal from the Redskins, after he has been hired and fired from the Los Angeles Rams, you can mention his name and the light comes on, the duck drops down.
"George, George, George," says Abe Pollin, owner of the Bullets, grabbing him in a half hug. "Hey, it's good to see you. How's your wife?"
"How's your wife?" Allen says right back. "Hey, and listen, congratulations, on those Bullets. You're a winner, Abe. I always knew that."
It's a few minutes before 10:30 a.m., in the New York Room of the Capital Hilton. People from the National Alliance of Business and the press drift in. The TV stations have been invited, but haven't showed. This is upsetting to the PR gang.
George Allen isn't upset; he is ebullient. In a few minutes, he will open the vest of his three-piece suit and say to some gathered scribes, "Here, let me just show you this waistline. One hundred and fifty consecutive situps every morning, THIS morning. And then I say, 'Okay, George, one more to beat Staubach.'"
He makes a fist, a grimace of hate. Big hars all around. He rattles the change in his pocket. If this is a cartoon, nobody minds. Nobody is leaving.
He is introduced by Lloyd N. Hand, president of the National Alliance. Allen takes the lectern to mild applause; the audience is waiting for him to lick his thumbs.
"I landed last night from Kansas City," he says. "It was raining, and I got in the back of this cab about 9:30, and there was this driver with a derby hat on and he said after a bit, 'You Allen?' I said, 'Yep.' And he said, 'Heck, man, you look better than you used to when you were coach.'"
This a warm-up; the football metaphors are on their way. "I think when you're in sports, you have an obligation to do more than just win." (This jerks up a few heads.) "You have an oblication to community service."
He says he wants 270,000 jobs from the private sector for kids out there this summer. "It's a modest goal. I mean, if Washington can get 40,000 my gosh, those other guys are down in the cellar. Hey, what was Dallas' pledge?"
A PR man from the back can't quite remember.
He drops his voice. Something big is coming. "You know, I love aphorisms and maxims, always have, so I just made up this one: 'Summer Jobs for Youth: Everybody Wins.'"
No, that's not quite right. He starts over. "Summer Jobs for Youth: Everybody's a Winner."
That's it. He beams.
But the big moment is ahead. Allen is to talk by transcontinental conference-call hookup to Ray Korc, owner of the San Diego Padres and head of the McDonald's hamburger empire. For the past five minutes, two men from the phone company have been whispering loudly into a suitcase of electronics. ("Hello, hello. This is Washington, D.C.") Now the hookup is ready. Allen takes over.
"Good morning, Ray,"
"Hiya, George," squawks back a voice. "You're in Washington, are ya?"
The two trade insults. "Think you got a winner this year?" booms Allen.
Kroc says the Padres may have some problems.
"What's gonna happen to you next year?" asks Korc.
"Well, Ray, I coached baseball for six years, you know... and if you ever need a manager."
More high hilarity. Allen sobers. "Actually, if I'm not coaching, CBS has asked me to come back."
The big moment of the call comes when Allen goads Kroc into promising 5,000 jobs at his D.C. area hamburger outlets. "I not only like to have goals, George, I like to surpass them."
When the call is finished, and he has rung off grinning, Allen says, "Boy, you start like that, and it's like making nine yards on first down."
After the press conference, Allen is leaning against a wall, foot up on a chair. Somebody asks him about the death of Carroll Rosenbloom, late owner of the Los Angeles Rams who drowned earlier this week in Miami Beach. Rosenbloom fired Allen after two exhibition games last summer.
"My, God, it was awful. I was in an airport when I heard. I called right away. I tried to reach his wife, Georgia.
"He was a very intelligent man, a tremendous competitor."
He is asked about the Redskins' quick decline last season after beginning so rbilliantly. "What'd they lose - eight out of 10? One of the things I always tried to prevent was a losing streak. After you lose two in a row, losing comes like... like taking a drink of water."
Out of earshot, a PR man who has accompanied him on the entire trip says, "People come up to him on planes and say, 'Coach, the game needs you.'"
At noon, George Allen goes to the White House. His wife, Betty, a small, handsome woman with a warm smile, and his eldest son, George Jr., a Charlottesville, Va., lawyer, accompany him. George Jr. is rangy and quiet.He has on akhaki suit and Tony Lama lizard-toe cowboy boots.
(Later, George Jr. says, "I never wanted to be coach of more than a Little League Team")
At the White House now, the Allen, and company are met by Mrs Carter on the ground floor. When Richard Nixon was president, he called Allen personally to advise him before a '49ers game. But Mrs. Carter doesn't seem to have Allen's won-lost record on her lips. This is to be a picture-taking session. Ten minutes and out.
Allen and Mrs. Carter chit-chat. Cameras whir and click behind a protective rope. Does the president work out? Yes, says Mrs. Carter. He runs. Well, terrific. It's one of the most important things he can do, Allen assures her. He is making fighting gestures. Mrs. Carter is smiling. She is dwarfed beside him.
Half an hour later George Allen takes lunch in the 12th-floor executive dining room of the IBM corporation on K Street. With him are two dozen civic and business leaders. The summer job pitch is made again. He is lauded and applauded. He get a golden Plug Award. Someone quotes Carlyle: "The good I may do manking, I must do now because I may not pass this way again."
He gets up to talk. It's a great city, Washington, he says, sounding soft. "I've lived in Chicago. L.A., Washington, I've traveled all over... There's no place better."
Afterward, he stands alone, soon to be whisked off for more interviews. George Allen-whom an informal poll in Sports Illustrated once named as the most disliked coach in the league - is asked if he misses football even more than he thought he would. He waffles: "Well, I'm still in it, you know. I work for CBS. I wrote a column..."
A finger spears air. "Look, I'll be back. George Allen will be back. You can underline that and put it in caps.In fact, you better underline it twice. GEORGE ALLEN WILL BE BACK."
He pauses. "It's my life." CAPTION: Picture 1, George Allen in Washington: "I've travelled all over... there's no place better.", By Harry Naltchavan - The Washington Post Picture 2, George Allen with Rosalynn Carter; by Margaret Thomas - The Washington Post