George Allen, head coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins for the last seven years, has been fired, The Washington Post learned last night.
"I just reached the point where I couldn't wait any longer for George to make up his mind and have so advised him of our decision to look for a new head coach and general manager," said Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams. "Our negotiations with George Allen are concluded."
Last July 14, Williams called a press conference to announce that the Redskins and Allen had agreed to a new four-year contract.
But Allen never signed the contract, which called for an annual salary of $250,000 a year.
"I thought we reached an agreement," Williams said. "Last Saturday was six months since we made the announcement - with his approval - and nothing happened.
"I gave George Allen unlimited patience and he exhausted it," said Williams.
"In all fairness to the people I will be negotiating with, I could not be talking to someone else about a job and allow Allen the option of changing his mind.
"No one could say I did not give George sufficient time to say yes to us."
Allen's record with the Redskins was 67-30-1, making him the most successful coach in Redskin history. His post-season record was 2-5.
The major hitch in Allen signing the new contract was Williams' desire to have more say in the team's financial matters and personnel. Williams and other officers of the Redskins were disturbed at Allen's salary structure (he had the highest payroll in the NFL), his free spending and his trading away of so many high draft choices.
However, Allen remained adamant in wanting to maintain the status quo, claiming a coach needs absolute control of the team and its resources.
Last week, when Chuck Knox, under pressure from Los Angeles owner Carroll Rosenbloom, announced he was leaving the Rams to become head coach of hte Buffalo Bills, Allen reportedly became a candidate for the Rams job.
"I have to assume he covets the Los Angeles job," Williams said. "And I hope he is selected to be the Rams' coach.
"But I have to act in the best interests of the Redskins - not react to whom Los Angeles chooses as its coach.
"I want a coach who has Washington as his first choice, and so I'm beginning now to make plans to restructure our organization and look for a successor."
Williams said he will divide the job of head coach and general manager (Allen held both) and will immediately start looking for candidates.
"We have some excellent people inside the organization who will get every consideration," Williams said. "And we also will look outside the organization.
Names of those likely to be considered as possible successors to Allen are Chicago Bears coach Jack Pardee, a former Redskin linebacker and Allen aide; Stanford head coach Bill Walsh and St. Louis coach Don Coryell, both candidates for the Ram job; Cincinnati assistant coach Mike McCormack, a former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and an assistant in Washington, and Baltimore coach Ted Marchibroda, a former Redskin assistant.
The action by Williams marks the second time Allen has been fired in his successful career. He was dismissed in 1970 form his first headcoaching job, with the Los Angeles Rams, because he did not get along with the owner of the team, the late. Dan Reeves.
He was hired by Williams in 1971 and in seven years in Washington made the playfoffs five times. Only a field goal by the Chicago Bears' Bob Thomns, which beat the New York Giants with five seconds remaining in overtime, kept the Redskins out of the playoffs this year. Washington was 9-5 in 1977.
According to the Redskins' press guide, Allen was born on April 29, 1922, making him 55. However, an item in this week's Sports Illustrated lists the year of Allen's birth as 1918, according to a transcript from Eastern Michigan University, which Allen attended for three years. He is a graduate of Alma College in Michigan.
Allen's popularity reached its peak in 1972, his second season, when the Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys, 26-3, to win the NFC title and reach the Super Bowl, where they were beaten, 14-7, by Miami.
However, despite his numerous victories, his popularity began to wane when he forced Sonny Jurgensen to retire; overworked in the eyes of some observers, running back Larry Brown, and presented the fans with one of the most conservative offenses in the NFL. This year, Allen, refused io introduce his offense at home games because he knew it would be booed.
"I have the warmest regards for George Allen," said Williams. "I wish him the best of luck."