If that was the face of a man who's been stabbed in the back, then rocks can talk and elephants fly in formation. George Allen was on TV last night and you never saw such smiling. At 7:55, he even shook hands with sin in the form of Sonny Jurgensen. By firing him, the Redskins must have done Allen a kindness. It was an amazing show.
Jurgensen was once a Redskin quarterback, this city's darling. Then, in 1973, Allen told Sonny to go sit in a corner; we don't need you. Jurgensen in turn told everybody Allen didn't know a thing about offense. Ascending into medialand as a sports announcer. Jurgensen then told everybody Allen was devious, couldn't lead men, didn't know a thing about offense and chewed ice cream, for crying out loud.
So last night, making what was probably his last appearance on a local TV show. George Allen sat two chairs away from the cohost, Sonny Jurgensen.Amazing. And if you believe what you see on TV Allen was the world's happiest man - smiling, laughing, joking. Even his eyes, those twin suggestions of dark cunning seemed bright with joy. Faint, faint.
The show, WTOP's "Sidelines." was a setup, certainly. They announced early it was a review of Allen's seven years as the Redskins' coach. They wouldn't go into this controversy stuff. In the papers, Allen can say the team president stabbed him in the back. He can say the prez is a Jekyll and Hyde. But they wouldn't go into that on the air.
Even considering the protection of that guarantee. Allen was remarkably relaxed. He even opened the show with a couple of semifunny lines. He said the Redskin's veteran center, Len Hauss, had called from Jessup, Ga., "and offered me a job in his liquor store."
Jurgensen couldn't stand it. "I thought maybe a dairy store," he said slyly.
Allen went on. His veteran linebacker, Chris Hanburger, runs an automobile agency. Maybe, Allen said, he could sell cars. That brought up the old Washington question: Would you buy a used car from this man?
Allen said he thought Jack Pardee would be a good coach for the Redskins. Was that because Pardee had transformed the Chicago Bears from sad sacks to reborn Monsters of the Midway? To Allen that wasn't important. Pardee played for Allen and later coached with him. He'd be good for the Redskins, Allen said, because "he'll use the system he was taught." Such grace, such modesty-Amazing.
By then, Jurgensen had recovered from the laughing fit produced by the image of George Allen selling six packs of Billy Beer to farmers in Jessup, Ga. So the old quarterback asked about Allen's plans. Would he coach the Los Angeles Rams?"
"I don't know what I'll do," Allen said. He said he'd go on vacation. "I may get out of the country," he said.
And then Allen said wom amazing things.
"It could be I'd sit out a year," he said.
Oh, sure, A confirmed workaholic, Allen will sit out a year the same year Sonny Jurgensen enters a monastery.
Allen casually mentioned he'd been offered a job as general manager only, but his most amazing words were these: "After seven years of coach and general manager, I might like to see what you could do just as coach."
This from the man who has preached high and low that success comes only to the coach who controls everything.
You will pardon a snicker. But it happens that the Los Angeles Rams are unlikely to offer Allen total authority. They would hire him as coach only. So it's a convenient thing for Allen to say now, that he "might like to see" what he could do as coach only.
But then, Allen is an a-mayyy-ZZZing kind of guy. Think of last Wednesday. That was the day Allen subdivided himself and was in two places at once.
He didn't know about his firing that day, he told reporters, because he spent Wednesday evening at a coxy birthday dinner for his wife.
He also spent Wednesday at the Los Angeles airport, talking to his lawyers. That's what Allen told reporters a couple of days after he told them about the birthday party.
Even now, scientists are trying to reach Allen, hoping he'll share his secrets of matter transferral, but the coach reportedly is going on vacation in the Bahamas, Hawaii and London.