George Allen explained today that he compromised his principles in voting for a new National Football League scheduling plan for 1978, but that the plan would ultimately help the Redskins.
The new schedule provides that all teams in the NFC East - or in any other division - will play common opponents in 12 contests in the new 16-game schedule and the other four games against clubs that finished the previous season with records relatively close to those of teams in the NFC East.
If the system had been in effect last season, the Redskins' 1977 schedule would have them playing two games each, as usual, against all teams in the NFC East; four games against common opponents from the AFC East - Baltimore, New England, Miami and the New York Jets - and four games against noncommon opponents San Francisco and Chicago (both of which, like the Redskins, finished second in their division) and Atlanta and Detroit (both of which finished third).
For those fans who would like to figure out team schedules for games outside divisions, this is the key:
A first-place team plays three first-place clubs, one second place, one third place, and three fourth place.
A second-place team, such as the Redskins, plays one first-place club, three second, three third and a fourth.
A fourth-place team plays three firsts, a second, one third and three fourth.
A fifth-place team plays one first, one second, one third, one fourth and four fifth.
In the second step, of the first four or five teams in a division playing those from another division, it will be on a three-year-rotation basis. The NFC East will play the AFC East the first year; the AFC Central will play the NFC West and the AFC West will play the NFC Central.
In the second year, it's the AFC Central vs. the NFC East, the AFC West vs. the NFC West, and the AFC East vs. the NFC Central.
In the third year, it's the NFC East vs. AFC West, the AFC East vs. the NFC West, and the AFC Central vs. the NFC Central.
"I am against the concept of the first-place teams playing the first-place teams and the second-place teams playing the second-place teams, and so forth," Allen said. "You end up with two leagues, one for winners and one for losers. But (commissioner) Pete (Hozelle) said it would help the league get a letter TV contract and that would help the Redskins, so I voted for it.
"I've always been for a 16 game season over 14," Allen added.
President Bill Bidwill of the rival St. Louis Cardinals said he favored all three parts of the package that passed by a 21-to-7 vote, the barest majority. A separate vote to add an extra wild-card team to each conference for the playoffs carried unanimously.
Jim Kensil, executive director of the NFL, who drew up the schedule for what is being termed "the new face of football," pointed out that the risks of the wild-card participants not being truly representative will be reduced to a maximum in the new schedule because the second-place teams play opponents of relative strength outside their divisions - one first-place team, three seasons, three thirds and a fourth.
Another keen rival of the Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys, favor the new schedule.
"The team should play equal schedules," Tex Schramm, president of the Cowboys, said. "Teams in the NFC Eastern Division will play mostly common schedules - the finest, truest way to determine a champion.
"The new concept recognizes that eight year often were unfair because of the variance in the relative strengths of opponents.
"Now, we have eliminated most of the inequities. The 1976 schedule provides for the stronger teams to play stronger clubs and the weaker teams to play more opponents of their caliber. Dallas, St. Louis and the Redskins would play stronger teams, while the Giants and Philadelphia would play weaker schedules.
"It has a balance; it represents my optimum hope; I was for it. This compromise is beter than the old schedule.
"I was against the 16-game schedule. In lengthening the schedule, more teams will drop out of the reaces sooner. The baseball season, and that of other sports, goes too long. As the football season gains distance, some teams drop off into losers and statistics show they never come back. There will be more meaningless games.
"There is no question that it was voted to help to get a better TV contract to help pay for the new labor contract."
A proposal is expected at Thursday's meeting to place the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Central and AFC West, respectively, this season, a year ahead of schedule.