So Sonny Jurgensen is saying naughty things about George Allen. On television on radio, maybe even on horseback riding through villages. Jurgensen is saying Allen is silly, or something if he benches Billy Kilmer this Sunday. More about Jurgensen later but hey anyone can see that Kilmer ought to benched.
Did you see his performance Sunday against the Giants?
He threw one pass 45 yards in the air and it hit Mike Thomas right in the helmet. If he hadn't been wearing that helmet, the football at this moment would be stuck in his ear. Instead the pass bounced off the helmet and was incomplete.
Sure some people think Mike Thomas should have caught the pass. It would have been a touchdown and might have made the Redskins winners. Some people say Thomas would have caught the ball if he'd used his hands instead of trying to catch it with his helmet. Anytime a quarterback is good enough to hit a guy's helmet 45 yards away, some people say the receiver ought to catch the ball.
A lot they know.
George Allen isn't saying, but it seems certain he'll bench Kilmer this Sunday and start Joe Theismann against the Philadelphia Eagles.
That'll teach Kilmer not to hit receivers in the helmet.
Another time last Sunday Kilmer threw a long long pass to Clarence Harmon. This one hit Harmon in the hands and the receiver caught it and ran for a touchdown that might have made the Redskins winners.
Except it was called back because Frank Grant, another receiver moved illegally before the play.
And that of course, was Kilmer's fault. Any quarterback worth his shoulder pads would have gone to Grant before the play, right out there in front of 50,000 people and said. "Hey, Frank, the snap count is 'two' and I'd really appreciate it if you stood still until I throw this touchdown pass to Harmon. OK?"
But did Kilmer do that?"
And near the end of the game, when the Redskins were despearte what did Kilmer do?
He threw passes to Danny Buggs.
But Kilmer made a terrible mistake.
He hits Buggs right in the hands.
He should have hit him in the helmet.
Buggs dropped two passes that might have set up a touchdown and kept alive hopes for a miracle finish.
Obviously, this is all Billy Kilmer's fault and any dummy can see that he ought to be benched. The Redskins need a younger quarterback who will cause passes to stick to Mike Thomas' helmet. They need a quarterback who in his spare time can play cornerback and stop the bombs that have been falling on the Redskins. With the right quarterback, the running backs will remember which way is forward.
That's what George Allen is telling us.
Oh, the coach gets that really glum look and says it would be very difficult to bench Billy Kilmer. Sincerity and loyalty and all that. To bench Billy, the coach says would be unfair because it would seem he's blaming the quarterback for all the troubles.
It would be very difficult to do, Allen says.
But he doesn't say he won't do it. Like the old Whittier College bench warmer who once spoke to us from the Oval Office. Allen simply wants us to know he has a tough job. He wants us to know that if benches Kilmer, it wasn't an easy thing to do. And then he'll do it.
Some people think Allen is telling us less than the whole truth.
Sonny Jurgensen for one, "George is speaking with forked tongue," he said.
Now a big sports commentator for WTOP-TV. Jurgensen once was a Redskin quarterback for George Allen. They didn't like each other much then, and they still don't. After Sunday's 17-6 loss to the Giants left the Redskins with a 3-3 won-lost record. Jurgensen went into a commentator's version of a two-minute offense. He hurled sideline barbs everywhere.
On the Monday night sportscast, Jurgensen said: "Obviously, the Skins just aren't playing football . . . The defense is not playing well enough to win . . . The offense is not doing anything positive . . . It's time to re-evaluate the receivers. As a group, they can't run or they can't catch . . . The offensive line lacks motivation. It's not personnel, it's just desire."
And then he said: "Benching Billy Kilmer isn't the answer. That wouldn't help the others players block catch or run."
And: "George Allen doesn't know how to motivate the team. Maybe it's time for some negative press. Anything to help, George."
Those last two sentences were delivered with unconcealed sarcasm.
On Tuesday night's sportscast, Jurgensen went on: "Front office sources tell me Joe Theismann will start against the Eagles . . . (Allen is saying Billy Kilmer has a bad back. I don't believe it. He doesn't have a sore back. Anything Allen gets in a bind, regardless of the real problem, he turns to the quarterback . . . What George is doing is ignoring everybody else's poor play and blaming the quarterback."
And Jurgensen, throwing wonderful spirals of sarcasm, said. "It's obvious that George Allen now is grasping at straws. What would he do if Joe Theismann loses Sunday? Call back Brian Dowling?"
A final down-and-outer: "Good luck, Joe, that quarterback rug is awful slippery."
Yesterday morning, Jurgensen went on a WTOP radio show and said Allen wasn't being honest with Billy Kilmer.
"You don't come out and give the man a vote of confidence (as Allen did Monday and then bench him," Jurgensen said. "Be honest with the man."
Jurgensen told WTOP's Frank Herzog he wasn't arguing that Kilmer should start ahead of Theismann.
"That's the coach's prerogative . . . (But) don't play games with the guy. Don't make the man out to be an idiot. Starting Joe Theismann might be the best thing they could do. But in doing so be honest with Billy Kilmer."
Jurgensen himself with involved in one of Allen's strange machinations in 1972. He was the second-stringer then, the aging equivalent to today's Joe Theismann, running behind Kilmer. When Allen benched Kilmer that time, he had a reason Jurgensen said.
"He said the defense was playing poorly and we needed to score more points. What kind of reason is that?"
Allen asked to respond to Jurgensen, said only. "Sonny has always been a pretty good second-guesser."
To be fair about all this it should be pointed out that Sonny Jurgensen is a former quarterback who is a friend of Kilmer. Quarterbacks everywhere must hang together, for they know that if they are given too much credit for success they are also given too much blame for failure. They protect each other, then and some of Jurgensen's commentary must be judged against the fraternal bonds of old quarterbacks.
The readers ought to know the typist's biases too. He thinks Billy Kilmer is something special a quarterback of rare determination, courage and leadership who has all the skills necessary to win with these Redskins. In Sunday's 17-6 loss to the Giants. Kilmer completed 20 of 39 passes against a defense that knew the Redskins runners have forgotten to run forward instead of sideways.
Had Kilmer put glue on Mike Thomas' helmet had he given Danny Buggs a butterfly net, had he put leg-irons on Frank Grant - had he done all that. Kilmer might have thrown three touchdown passes Sunday and won the game going away.
To bench Kilmer now is ludicrous. Allen will justify it this Sunday night with some mumbo-jumbo about blitzes and sagging zones. But it seems little more than a cheap and cruel motivational ploy done at Kilmer's expense.
Maybe Marie Barnes could send George Allen a T-shirt. Marie is a Redskin fan who has been going to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for 20 years. She says she's not a dyed-in-the-wool Kilmer fan - "I was a Jurgensens fan" - but she doesn't like the way Kilmer is booed at RFK.
"He's only one guy and how can they blame one individual out of 11 for a loss" she said. "That's why I had this T-shirt made up."
Marie Barnes wore a T-shirt that showed a man declining in front of a television set. The man labeled "Armchair Quarterback." Above the picture. Marie had four words printed in big white letters: GET OFF BILLYS BACK." CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By David [WORD ILLEGIBLE] - For The Washington Post