The time is Feb. 7, 1971. George Allen has been fired for the second time by owner Dan Reeves of the Los Angeles Rams and this time Reeves makes it stick. The coach's remarks at the time have a haunting ring now.
Bill Libby reported in West magazine, a supplement of the Los Angeles Times, that Allen said. "I took over a team which was stuck in the lower depths, a franchise which was going broke. No one wanted to play here. The fans were deserting. The press was sarcastic. In one year, I rebuilt the Rams' stature and pride.
"We won back the respect of the people. Players wanted to play for us. All foes feared us. In five years, I have made this franchise a big winner and money-maker. I have never been thanked. Is my thanks to be dismissed?
"He (Reeves) is, after all, not only the owner, but the general manager.He refused me a free hand in the operation of club, which any coach . . . Vince Lombar . . . Paul Brown . . . must have to succeed. If it isn't given to him, a coach must be strong enough to just take authority on his own. I did.
"But I operated in an atmosphere of hatred. Our whole team did. Reeves hated me. Hating me, he hated the team. He sought to split us so we'd come apart. Somehow, I held the pieces together. . . .
"I have been like a fine surgeon striving to bring back a sick patient to health, while the patient wished to die. That man wanted me to fail so I might quit, or so it would be easy for him to fire me. I'm no fool. I know he planted the rumors I was finished, no matter what, even if we won the Super Bowl."
In what was described as a moment of relection, Allen was quoted as saying, "The worst moments in my life are when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't remember whether we won or lost our last game.
"If I remember then that we won, I get on my knees and give thanks. If, however, I remember that we lost, I am destroyed by the thought of it and regret that I ever woke up at all."