George Allen called his assistant coaches together for a meeting yesterday and told them his status as head coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins was up in the air.
Sources fold The Washington Post that Allen brought up the subject of his contract difficulites with the club at the coaches' meeting. "He didn't dwell on it," one coach said, " and he was kind of vague. He did admit that it was up in the air, and that's about it.
"I don't think anybody really knows what's going on. But it does make for an uneasy Christmas because you don't know if you'll be here, or looking for another job."
Allen still has not signed that four-year extension on his original seven-year contract and his name is being linked with every head-coaching vacancy currently open, or about to open.
He has maintained all along that his problem with the club could be resolved and that, he wants to stay in Washington. But his message to his assistant coaches indicates the issue is far more complex than the "legal technicalities" Allen keeps talking about.
Redskin team president Edward Bennett Williams was not available for comment yesterday, nor eas Allen's attorney, Ed Hookstratten, of Los Angeles, who also handles contract negotiations for KINS, D8, Col. 4>
Allen was supposed to have agreed to a four-year extension (at a reported $250,000 a year) last summer, but never signed the pact. Sources continue to say the major disagreement involves control over the team's financial and personnel matters.
Allen's contract situation was still the main topic of conversation at Redskin Park yesterday. Several players showed up for treatment of injuries, and a few more stopped by to clean out their lockers before leaving for their offseason, out-of-town residences.
One player, who asked not to be identified, said most of his teammates were "as much in the dark as anyone," about Allen's situation. "We're usually the last to know anything anyway." the player said. "The one name that keeps coming up if George were to leave is Jack Pardee.
"It would depend on what they wanted to do. If you wanted to start from scratch and clean house, then you don't go that way. But if you want to keep the same kind of system and the same philosophy, that would make sense. And it would be a promotion for Pardee. They've got a pretty strong general manager (Jim Finks) up there. Pardee could probably call his own shots here. But like I said, that's nothing but speculation.
Another source indicated yesterday that Allen has spoken with several of his veteran players about the possibility of joining him if he does, in fact, move to another team.
If Allen does settle his contract hassle with the Redskins, most of his older players will probably return for another season.
Tight end Jerry Smith and safety Brig Owens have indicated they will not play again next season and running backs Bob Brunet and Calvin Hill also have said they probably won't be back.
The futures of Billy Kilmer, ROn McDole, Pat Fischer, Chris Hanburger, Charley Taylor, Len Hauss and Jim Kiick, among others, will probably hinge on Allen's status in Washington.
If Allen does return next season, he is likely once again to field the oldest team in the National Football League, and one that will get very little help from the 1978 college draft.
Allen has traded away his team's first eight picks in the next draft, either in trade, or as compensation for signing free agents. He still has his No. 1 choice in 1979, however.
The Redskins protected several young players on the injured reserve list this season, most notably their top draft pick (in the fourth round) last year, defensive end Duncan McCall.
And middle linebacker Greg Hartle, who played out his option a year ago in St. Louis, says he has completely recovered from serious knee surgery two years ago and will be able to paly again in 1978. Hartle also spent the season on the injured list.
Linebacker Brad Dusek will undergo surgery this week to repair a rupture of a tendon in his life bicep, an injury he suffered Saturday against the Rams. A team spokesman said there were no other players facing surgery.