Once, not too long ago, they were heroes in this city, a Super Bowl football team that turned the town on its ear with scintillating performances week after week, from September of 1972 all the way until the night before the new year.

They won their first two games, lost on a freak play in New England, then put together nine straight victories that clinched Washington's first division championship in 30 years.

In the playoffs the Redskins dominated the Green Bay Packers in the first round, unleashing a new five-man defensive front that thoroughly confused the opposition. And then, on New Year's Eve of 1972, they demolished their hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, 26-3, on a night when RFK Stadium shook and grown men wept in ecstacy.

The bubble burst for the Redskins two weeks later on a steamy day in Los Angeles, when they lost to the Miami Dolphins, 14-7, in the seventh Super Bowl.

There were 47 men on the roster that afternoon, 47 players who have scattered across the country in the seven years since. Only four remain on the current Redskins roster -- punter Mike Bragg, linebacker Harold McLinton, defensive tackle Diron Talbert and tackle Terry Hermeling. Five others are still active players in the NFL or Canada and a half-dozen Redskins are now NFL coaches or scouts, including Jack Pardee, head coach of the Redskins.

Some have had serious problems -- physical as well as financial. Cornerback Mike Bass has filed for bankruptcy and seen his Bahamas condominium business collapse in a series of complaints and suits from disgruntled purchasers. Special team whiz Jon Jaqua still suffers severe pain from pelvic injuries he incurred that year, a season when Allen nicknamed him "Jarrin' Jon."

The remaining former players include among their ranks: school teachers, lawyers, economists, mortgage bankers and one professional wrestler -- Verlon Biggs.

And George Allen, the man who coached them all to a season he once described as "my greatest reward in football," is still unemployed, waiting to return to the job he knows best. George Burman

A is spacious office on the 32nd floor of the Gulf Building looks out over Houston's bustle and sprawl. The carpet is beige, thick and plush. A map of West Africa dominates one wall. Pictures of his two children sit on top of a bookshelf, lined with volumes with ponderous titles such as "Game Theory Macroeconomics."

Once George Burman's main function in life, the job that put groceries on the table, centered around his ability to throw a football thourgh his legs back toward a punter 10 yards away. In 1972, he did that job well, as did his teammates on the Washington Redskins, and it paid off with what Burman now describes as "the most fun year of my life," a trip to the Super Bowl.

But now, seven years later, more important tasks lay ahead for Dr. George Burman, a staff economist for Gulf Oil's International Exploration and Production Company.

He has just returned from a two-week visit to West Africa, a trip he will repeat frequently over the coming years as he studies the economic feasibility of producing oil there.

"My life," he says, "is a lot more serious now. Oh sure, training camp was hard work, but you can play a little too, to maintain your sanity. But now we're all in the real world, so to speak. You think of career, where you're going, what's best for your family, and it involves a lot more time, a lot more commitment. Football provided a great physical release for me, and you had a lot of free time. I don't have that any more."

What he has are magnificent memories of a 1972 season "when everything just came together right for us. What the hell, we had a lot of talent, but it was not a team laden with super talent. We had to work a little harder; a lot of people, including me, had to extend themselves beyond their talent. And that added to the satisfaction even more.

"Consider what kind of team it was. The year before, they had a taste of it. Basically, it was a team of young guys that fully accepted all us old guys George Allen brought in. The city also was supportive and responsive and got great satisfaction out of what we did. It was a very special year, something you don't expect to experience again."

Burman never did. The Super Bowl was the last game of his career. He remembers that day, recalls that the team "came out so flat, we never really played with the abandon we had during the season. Everybody blames George for tightening up and choking, but I don't think anybody can figure out what did or didn't happen."

Burman turned 30 during that Super Bowl season and he knew his football career was near an end. He had prepared for it, taking courses at the University of Chicago in the off season throughout his career and completing his doctoral dissertation during the 1972 season.

He had planned to play in 1973, but an elbow injury forced him to have surgery, and he missed the entire season. He spent most of that year working for the NFL Player's Association and in 1974 he accepted a position with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as an assistant dean and associate professor.

Burman stayed there for two years, joined Gulf in 1976 and moved to Houston last December. his life has changed in other ways. His marriage broke up in Pittsburgh, and Burman has since remarried. He and his wife are renovating an old house.

Burman raced motorcycles until someone stole his bike. He has a small sailboat he keeps on Galveston Bay. He plays tennis. He runs. And he watches football on television.

I still follow the Redskins, but it gets harder to identify with them every year. Gee I wish those old guys could have played forever.

"As I know fewer and fewer people on the team, it'll get easier to be an Oiler fan. So, number one I pull for Washington, and number two I pull for Houston.

"And I love to see either one of them kick hell out of Dallas." Charley Taylor

Charley Taylor has been coming to Carlisle, Pa., for 15 years, since the days of Otto Graham when he was a peach fuzz rookie with the shake-and-bake moves, a first-round draft choice with a country twang and big league hands.

Now he is back again, signing autographs for the children who aways seem to flock around, exchanging chatter with some of his former teammates, and watching, always watching, the action out on the field.

Charley Taylor, the most productive wide receiver in the history of the NFL and a sure-shot Hall of Fame selection, is paid to watch by the Redskins. He is employed as a scout, the first step in what he hopes will be a career in management, perhaps as the first black general manager in the NFL.

Taylor says he gets great pleasure form this line of work.He has grown used to not playing the game he loved so much and played so well. And he takes great delight in talking about the past, particularly the Super Bowl season.

Taylor led the Redskins in receiving that year with 49 catches, seven of them for touchdowns. He also scored two touchdowns in that memorable New Year's Eve playoff victory against the Cowboys, a game he recalls as "a mirage, when everything we tried worked, when every pass was on the money, when we could do no wrong."

Taylor and running back Larry Brown made the Redskin offense go that year, though now Taylor says, "I had to change my whole style of playing for George. His theory was controlled offense, take no chances, and teams knew it. Sure I was frustrated. I had to develop another pattern. I couldn't do the deep posts because Kilmer couldn't get it to me, and George would have killed him if he tried. 'If the truth were also known, Taylor admits now that he would have preferred to have Sonny Jurgensen as his quarterback in 1972, and every other year as well.

"I always had the feeling that Kilmer held it against me, all those great years me and Sonny had together," Taylor said. "I don't know why, but we could never get together, I could never get into his head on the field like I could with Sonny. I could never get close to him.

"We'd go out there and break our necks for Billy, and you'd never hear him say, 'Well hey, my receivers had a hell of a day.' I could never accept it when he'd stomp around and shake his head back there when we dropped a damned pass. It's funny. Billy never let me know he enjoyed working with me. Maybe he didn't.

"Oh yeah, we clicked quite a few times. That Dallas game in '72. "The Cowboys spent the whole game calling me a cheap-shot mother. They still blamed me for ending Chuck Howley's career a couple years before on a crackback. They had a guy, D. D. Lewis, who spent the whole game just coming after me, throwing punches, kicking, all that stuff. I found out later they had a bounty on me. That's right, a bounty. It was money or TV sets; guys would get it if they knocked me out of the game.

"There's no doubt in my mind we should have won that Super Bowl game. If we had played that game on Thursday that week, we'd have kicked a. . . We were ready then, despite that Snowden business."

The Snowden business referred to Jim Snowden, a veteran offensive tackle who was caught for breaking curfew the Tuesday night before the Super Bowl. Snowden had been on the injured list that year and Allen wanted to fine him and send him home.

"But that Wednesday all the black players on the team came to me," Taylor said. "I was the captain. The petition said, If you send Snowden home, we're not gonna play the game. So Len Hauss, who was also a captain, and me met with George and talked him out of it.

"To tell you the truth, I think Larry Brown was involved in it, too, coming in late. So were a couple other guys. We talked George out of it, so Snowden stayed. But the team was kinda upset about the whole thing. I can't say that's why we lost the game to Miami. But it sure didn't help.

"During the game, Kilmer didn't call a lot of the stuff we had worked on during the week. I don't know why. A lot of guys also got distracted all week. There were more people, shoe guys coming around giving you $1,000 to wear their shoes in the game.

"Some guys actually wore two different brands, one on each foot. Sure they paid me. But the shoe they gave me hurt. I wore it in the warmup, then I wore my own during the game. The whole scene was crazy. You think it's just a football game, but it's more than that, it really is."

Taylor played five more seasons with the Redskins before his former teammate and friend, Jack Pardee, told him before the start of the 1978 season that he did not fit in the team's plans.

"I needed somebody to tell me that," Taylor says now. "I shouldn't have been playing. So I talked with Bobby Beathard and he offered me a chance to get into this line of work, and I've never regretted it." Taylor has other things going as well. He owns a sand and gravel business in Irving that "pays the groceries." He owns 60 acres of land in Grapeland, Texas. There are other investments.

His marriage, he says, "has improved so much. As soon as I got off the field, my wife started doing more things. She's in real estate, she teaches, there's so much less tension now than when I was playing. She's somebody, not just Charley Taylor's wife. She's found herself.

"And for me, life is great. Some guy once told me that when I retired from football, I'd vanish from the face of the earth. Does it look like I have to you?"

And with that, Charley Taylor went off to sign some more autographs. Roosevelt Taylor

Rosey Taylor's Locker Room Cocktail Lounge is dark this sultry summer New Orleans night. Later in the week there will be a two-drinks-for-the-price-of-one night; a free-food lunch, an employe appreciation happy hour for a group of bureaucrats at city hall.

Still, as Taylor unlocks the front door, turns on the lights and takes a visitor on a guided tour, his voice is full of pride.

"This is my baby," he says of the small lounge, a dozen blocks from the French Quarter in a slum neighborhood full of half-naked children playing in the street, their sweltering parents sitting on the stoops hoping for a rare river breeze to blow away the oppressive heat.

"I turned this place into putting in $150 a week out of my own pocket to taking out $1,200 a week," Taylor chirps. "I get everybody in here, white and black, mink coats and T-shirts. They all wanna come to Rosey's cause I treat 'em right."

When Taylor was the Redskins starting safety in 1972, he hardly chirped at all. Reporters covering the team rarely sought him out because frequently he would tell them he had nothing to say that would help them. He was pleasant enough, but usually, "I told them to ask somebody else. I wasn't in it for the publicity."

If he had been, Taylor would have had plenty to say. Oh, he appreciated George Allen for obtaining him in trade from the 49ers just before the 1972 season, but then, Taylor insists: "George was lucky to have me. I was 40 percent of his defense, and he knew it.

"That year, George had himself a bunch of what I call phony inspirational kind of guys. "Talbert was a phony, oh yeah. Most of the them were. I never felt they were very genuine. They had their own little group. No blacks in that group, were there? Hey, I was a hell of an observer. I majored in psychology in college. So if you ask me, I'll tell you. . . "

So if you ask Taylor why the Redskins lost the Super Bowl that year, he tells you: "I think it was George Allen. He screwed up the whole god-damned week. We got there being confined by curfew one night a week during the season. We get out there, and there's curfew every night. We had to eat every meal together, you went to the practice together, to the press conferences together. George really hated Los Angeles. He got that from George Halas. Halas used to call L.A. the 'sex-pool of America.' George believed it too.

"So the whole week became a boring thing. Even though we worked hard, the boredom carried over to the game. The harder we tried, the worse it got. George was just crazy that week. It sure didn't help us."

Taylor being bored with anything is difficult to imagine. He is a small compact man with a handshake that could break bones, and a body, he insists, "that could still play that game. I'm 41, but they never cut on these legs. I can still outrun the kids. I've been thinking about calling up the Saints and asking to come out. I could back up the safeties, teach 'em plenty too. And I could play, no doubt about it."

Taylor has been out of the game since that night in the 1973 exhibition season when he leaped high to knock down a pass, landed on his arm and "heard that bastard crack." The arm was broken and Taylor missed the entire season. He came back in 1974, but was placed on waivers, the victim, he says "of a budget cut. I wasn't the only one. They got Jurgy and Pottios, too." "I'm a proud man. I'm not shy about telling you how good I was. You ask the guys I played with. But nobody in pro ball allowed fewer touchdowns. In all the 14 years, I had 11 touchdowns thrown against me on guys I was covering. I don't think anybody made more big plays. I believe I should be in the Hall of Fame, maybe some day I will. But I'm not gonna be upset if I'm not, because I know what I did, and a lot of people do too."

So for now Taylor is content to see his lounge and the 24-unit motel above it prosper. He drives a two-year-old Eldorado, lives in a huge 13-room house in an integrated neighborhood on a large lake and takes great joy in the accomplishments of his 11-year-old son, Brian, named for his Bear teammate, Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer.

In the years since he retired, Taylor has worked as a school teacher, a camp counselor and a cookware and insurance salesman. Last year he ran and barely lost an election to become a city constable. He also is a partner in another motel complex in a better part of town.

"But right now, the Locker Room is where I devote all my time and energy," he says. "Sure I'm a hustler. Nothing has ever come easy, except maybe football. It's a hard world out there, and there have been times when it's treated me wrong.

"But I always come out all right. I always licked the bastards, and I always will." Bob Brunet

He bounces off the pickup truck, extends his hand to an old friend from Washington and bellows, "Pod-nah [as in partner], what it is?"

It is Bob Brunet, the best exhibition season running back in the history of the Washington Redskins, probably its most rugged special team hero and now a Baton Rouge entrepreneur.

He is standing in front of Cajun Seafood, a wholesale-retail fish market that supplies seafood to restaurants all over the state and sells over the counter to anyone.

And soon he is sitting at the bar of The Galley, the modest family restaurant behind the fish market he owns and operates, talking football between bites of channel catfish, gulf prawns and deep-fried oysters.

Above the bar is Brunet's Super Bowl uniform, ol'No. 26, and there are pictures of Brunet in action -- crossing the goal line in an exhibition game against Cleveland, about to be tackled by Eddie Brown, one of his best friends.

Brunet is living the good life these days, and heaven knows he earned it. In 10 tough seasons with the Redskins, every limb in his body suffered some sort of injury, and he still has problems from the biggest hurt of all -- a neck injury in the 1977 season that threatened to leave him paralyzed and forced him to retire.

But there is no bitterness in his voice as he talks about football in general and 1972 in particular.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I could have gained 1,000 yards as a running back in the NFL," he says. "I proved that every preseason. But in 1972, I had three fumbles in an exhibition game against the Lions, and I don't think George Allen ever forgave me. No, never trusted me is a better word, even though two of those fumbles were on handoffs, when anything could go wrong.

"The 1972 season actually was set up in 1971. I just remember how bad we all felt losing to the 49ers in the playoffs that first year. A bunch of us went to Maggie's after that game, and I just felt like I didn't want it to end.

"Now normally I hated training camp. It was tortue for me. But after that '71 playoff game, I took two weeks off, then started working out every day the rest of that off season, the hardest I'd ever worked in my life. I even went to camp three days early. A bunch of guys did because everybody felt the same way.

Many players believe the tone for the 1972 season was set in the first game that year against Minnesota, on Monday night TV, when Bill Malinchak blocked a punt, recovered and scored a decisive touchdown.

"I agree. Geez, I remember that game like it was yesterday," Brunet says. "We were so high. We had just scored a touchdown, kicked off to them and we held them. On the punt, I'm containing the end, I'm throwing all these blocks. Then I look up and there's Billy crossing the goal line.

"Then we kick off to them, and I miss the initial tackle on Clint Jones. But somebody's chasing him, and I come from behind, hit him and he fumbles. Malinchak recovers, Haraway goes off tackle for the score and the game's ours.

"I'll never forget that feeling in the locker room. That's what I miss most now. We started jumping up and down and Malinchak is jumping up and down yelling hey, hey, hey, hey. It's something we did after every game we won from then on. . . "

"The Dallas game? Well, I had my best game that year against Minnesota, and my second best against Dallas. We just overpowered those guys. I remember after it was 26-3 and there's still time for them to do something. We're in the huddle saying to each other, 'This is the most important kickoff of our lives.'

I went down and made the biggest tackle of my career on Cliff Harris, inside the 15. The crowd went wild, I went wild, we all knew it was over.

"I tell you something else, I don't buy that stuff about George blowing the Super Bowl. He wasn't playing; we were. I don't think Miami had a better team. I just remember lining up for the kickoff and telling myself, 'What's wrong here? C'mon, Bru, get up, get up, this is the Super Bowl.' I just can't account for it.

With the $20,000 in playoff money, Brunet paid off the modest subdivision house he still lives in with his wife, two children and a black Labrador puppy he calls Maggie.

In 1973 he and his first cousin, Ted Plaisance, paid $4,000 for a truck, started buying seafood at Gulf Coast piers and selling to Baton Rouge and New Orleans restaurants.The following year the retail store was opened and in 1977 they opened the Galley.

Now there are plans to enlarge the restaurant to 250 seats, complete with a banquet room and catering service. Brunet has several solid land investments, including one piece of oil-rich property that provides a steady flow of royalty checks.

In short, Brunet is now approaching millionaire status, though his tastes still run to four-wheel-drive jeeps, T-shirts and jeans and the comfort of a duck blind in the bayou near his home.

Occasionally he feels pain in his neck and a doctor tells him he will be in serious trouble by 40 unless he has major back surgery to fix a herniated disc, an injury he suffered in high school.

"But I have no regrets at all," he says, bidding a friend goodbye. "The game was good to me, I made some great friends and my kids will never have to worry about a thing." Bill Malinchak

It is less than an hour from closing time in the Commodities Exchange on the eighth floor of New York City's World Trade Center, Building No. 4. The price of gold has just hit $300 an ounce for the first time, and the trading in gold futures, as always, is frantic.

A man in a body-hugging, open-neck shirt, tight European-cut slacks and Gucci loafers is standing in "the pit," the arena on the floor of the exchange, examining the fluctuating prices of gold futures on a computerized board overhead.

Suddenly he sees a price that appeals to him and starts jumping up and down, bidding for December futures, shouting at sellers across the pit at the top of his lungs. A seller looks at him, waves his hand, signaling a sale, and the man in the open-necked shirt -- Bill Malinchak -- writes down the transaction.

Malinchak walks out of the pit, a smile on his face. An hour later, when the market closes for the day, he is smiling even more. He has made a $21,000 profit this afternoon.

Clearly, it beats blocking punts.

And yet, Malinchak says, sitting in his tastefully decorated apartment on the 38th floor of a fashionable East Side building, there was no better feeling in the world than to charge into an opposing kicker at full speed, body flying unprotected in mid-air, and feel the ball striking his skin with a dull "thwaaack."

In 1972 Billy Malinchak, a wide receiver who caught one pass in six seasons in Washington, blocked a punt against Minnesota in the season-opening game to lead the Redskins to a victory that got the season rolling. Two weeks later, he did the same thing against New England late in the game, and only an incorrect referee's decision ruling that he recovered the ball out of the end zone prevented the Redskins from winning.

Even now, seven years later, most of his teammates agree that Malinchak's blocked punts were a major reason why they got to the Super Bowl, even if Malinchak did not.

Malinchak was injured in the sixth game of the season against Dallas, when three Cowboys came after him on a kickoff and tore the cartilage in his knee.

"I talked to Dr. Resta, and he suggested that I not have survery," Malinchak recalled. "He thought I could get away with exercising it back into shape, and he said I could possibly come back in six to eight weeks. That's all I wanted to hear. Nobody believed I could, but by the Buffalo game, our last game that season, I could play."

Malinchak had been placed on the injured reserve list. To become activated, his name had to be placed on the NFL's waiver list. It was a gamble, because another team could claim Malinchak and the Redskins would lose him automatically.

And that was precisely what happened. San Diego coach Harland Svare plucked Malinchak off the waiver list "and I was dead, bang. No playoffs, no Dallas game, no Super Bowl.

"The day it happened I went to my apartment, got all my clothes and went home to Pennsylvania to see my folks. No, I don't think I cried. I was too shocked. I watched the playoff games on TV, and I remember thinking after the Dallas game, 'God, I wish I could be part of it.' Then I drove alone across the country to L.A., not to see the Super Bowl, but just because I thought that's where I wanted to live and work.

"I didn't go near the team. I wasn't part of it anymore. I couldn't make myself visit the players. I watched that game on TV, too. You'll never know how frustrating that was."

The 1972 season was not a total loss, however. Team president Edward Bennett Williams called Malinchak and told him the club would give him the $20,000 share for the playoffs and Super Bowl, "one of the most generous acts I've ever heard of in this game," Malinchak says now.

And the following season Allen convinced Svare to swap Malinchak back to the Redskins.He stayed in Washington the next two seasons before Allen cut him in 1975, "a move I really kind of agreed with," he says now.

Malinchak went back to Florida and worked at a health club in Ft. Lauderdale. Just before the 1976 season he decided to go to work for Alvin Brodsky, a member of the Commodities Exchange whom he had met through another friend. Brodsky offered to teach him the business from the bottom up, and Malinchak went north. But in the fall of 1976, Allen called him and asked him if he'd like to play again.

The Redskins were in a push for the playoffs, and Allen thought Malinchak's presence -- and punt-blocking ability -- might help. Brodsky gave Malinchak a leave of absence, and Billy the Kid came back to Washington. Incredibly, he blocked a punt against Dallas and helped the Redskins earn their last playoff berth in Allen's tenure.

Malinchak retired on his own after that season and went back with Brodsky, though Allen tried to talk him into playing again in 1978 when he took the Ram coaching job. "By then there was just no way," Malinchak said. "It would have cost a lot of money for me to play football."

At that point Malinchak had learned the business well enough to buy his own seat on the Comex exchange for $45,000, allowing him to trade for gold, silver and copper in the pits. He has been doing that ever since, on his own, "because I can handle losing my own money, but not other people's money."

From all appearances, that does not happen very often. Still, Malinchak does not plan to stay in the pit forever. It is a high-tension arena, where men literally drop dead from heart attacks while bidding goes on all around them. Malinchak says he will probably stay another five years, and hopes to have enough accumulated to retire.

Now he spends five days a week in New York, then flies each Friday to a condominium he owns in Ft. Lauderdale. He is stunningly handsome, still single and very popular with the ladies.

"It's a good life, but it's not reality," Malinchak says. "The market is really another world, and you have to keep telling yourself this is too good to be true. And it also looks a lot easier than it is. It's a hell of a lot easier to lose big money here than it is to make it."

Still, as a football player, he earned $48,000 a year in his most lucrative season.

Has he ever made that in a day on the market?

"Yeah," he says. "On a good day." Mike Hull

The newest resident of Allegheny Street in Takoma Park, Md., thrives on strong tea, wheat germ, fresh vegetables and a feeling of self-satisfaction after three years at the Georgetown Law Center.

Mike Ull, who once blocked for Mike Garrett and O. J. Simpson at USC, and for Gale Sayers in Chicago the year Sayers won an NFL rushing title, has every reason to be proud.

He survived seven years of professional football, a wrenching divorce the same year he was cut for the last time, and a serious neck injury that still pains him, to finish three years of competing "with all those brilliant young minds over there."

And when it finally ended at graduation last June, Mike Hull could look back on a scholastic career that included honors as a law fellow and as a teacher of freshman students in law research and language.

Now, after taking the D.C. bar in mid-July, Hull is employed at the Environmental Protection Agency as a staff attorney in the compliance section, earning half (about $18,000) of what he made in his final season with the Redskins and enjoying life more than ever.

He lives in a working class community, drives a battered old Subaru and commutes to the office by Metro. His beard is full, his body still trim, his tastes in furniture, food and clothing as modest as ever.

He also keeps a game ball or two around the neat little house he hopes to renovate over the next few years. And he still has memories of 1972, "when everything just came together for us, and everything seemed right with the world."

It did not start out that way for Hull. "I came into camp feeling as if I was going to fight for a starting position at fullback," he says now. "Bob Brunet and I were the backs in the first scrimmage of training camp, against Philadelphia.

"Well, the first play from scrimmage I twisted my knee, fumbled the ball, too. I couldn't walk. The whole training camp I was in a cast with my knee suspended, and every day I'm thinking as soon as I get out of this cast, I'm gonna be cut."

Hull did get cut."In fact, George cut me every year I was with him," Hull says. "He'd put me on waivers to get some kid through, knowing nobody wanted me. But he told me to stick around and we'd wait and see. Well, three days before the first game, he brought me back up to the team."

So Hull played that first game against Minnesota, and every game the rest of the way."I remember the winning streak, what was it, nine games? And I just remember it as a grind, week after week," he says. "We went into every game feeling that we might lose, which is different than thinking you will lose. It wasn't being negative, it was being realistic.

"That's when George kept telling us in team meetings: 'Men, success is not an end in itself. It's a continuing journey.' Geez, he must have said that five or six times that year. And we believed him.

"The week before the Dallas game was real quiet. We were gathering our resources. George never let up in the workouts, but all of us knew what we had to do. And by the end of the week, you could sense the change in the team. We were picking it up, realizing this was the last big push.

"Even though the final score said we killed them, I never felt we dominated Dallas the next week . . .

"But oh my that was exciting, to know that we made it, to have achieved that goal was so rewarding. I wish it could have lasted through the Super Bowl.

"I respect George Allen; I admire him, and I believe he made me a better person. But I have to say I really believe George made that game out to be more than it really was . . .

"He got so tight. There were veterans on that team who needed to be out on the streets, who needed to have a few beers. George had let it go on all year until we got to L.A., when it all changed.'

Hull went on to play two more seasons for Allen. At the same time, he attended law school in California part-time and bought some property on the West Coast that provided a steady income.

In 1975, Hull's hell began. He had been hurt late in the 1974 season after a wicked hit on Philadelphia return man Bill Bradley. And though he felt physically fit during the 1975 camp, "I was also kinda scared to put my head in there."

He had enrolled at Georgetown Law Center as a night student when Allen cut him again in 1975. That time he told Hull there would be no wait-and-see approach.

Hull also was going through a painful divorce and custody fight over his son Ernie, now 6. He dropped out of school to straighten out his business affairs in California and, "It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that I needed some major changes in my life."

Those changes came in 1976. Hull sold his California property, banked the profits and was accepted as a full-time day student at Georgetown. His first grade in law school as a D, "after I'd worked as hard in that course as anything I'd ever done."

But he persevered, living on pinched pennies and holing up in the Georgetown library hour after hour for three lonely years.

"I guess I was seeking the serenity of seclusion," he says. "I was looking for answers for what was taking place in my personal life. It was very difficult at first, coming from an athletic world to an academic world, but I must tell you that Goerge Allen's philosophy helped me get through.

"What George did for me was to enforce the notion that you can not give up. He rejuvenated my appreciation for making the effort. It didn't matter if I got a C plus in a course. It mattered that the hard work was my reward."