"I've given Cincinnati some helluva years," said Lemar Parrish, a defensive back with the Bengals for eight seasons."And they don't think enough of me to pay me. They weren't paying me for my job and I'm tired of playing for nothing.I look around the league and see guys getting paid what I should be getting. I think I am the best and I should be the highest paid."
Stop here a second. Parrish can play. He is 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds of agile, mobile, hostile cornerback. So if a guy can play, and if he's 30 years old, and if he wants to be paid well, where in the National Football League does he want to work?
One place only: George Allen's home for the active elderly.
"I've been trying to get to Washington all the time," Parrish said of his two-year running argument with Cincinnati management Presumable, Parrish admires the Lincoln Memorial as a splendid example of Greek Revival architecture, but chances are he was more smitten with reports on the size of eorge Allen's wallet.
So now the Redskins have traded a No. 1 draft choice to Cincinnati in return for Parrish and defensive end Coy Bacon. But Allen is gone, and one wonders if Parrish can be made happy by the new money man, General Manager Bobby Beathard.
"I'm asking for a contract in six figures a year," said Parrish, whose current contract expires at the end of the '78 season. Is such a request unreasonable?
Allen might have handed over the loot in cash. And chances are, Beathard won't hesitate, either. It is his deal, his first major move for the Redskins, and it's not likely he'd trade for a man he wasn't ready to sign to a lasting contract.
"I'm very happy," Parrish said by telephone from Cincinnati. "I like the Redskins' organization. I like the team. The Secondary is great, all of them - Ken Houston and Jake Scott and Joe Lavender. Pat Fischer, shoot, I have a lot of praise for that man and I'm just pleased to fill his shoes."
Those shoes are crowded at the moment.
When Fischer's back injury put him on the sidelines last year, rookie Gerald Williams moved into the left corner job. No rookie cornerback is acceptable in the NFL, particularly in a defense as complex as George's, and if Williams tried earnestly, his mistakes still hurt a team that could win only by eliminating all error.
Parrish, then, is the main man in the firsts trade arranged by Beathard and the new coach, Jack Pardee.
Parrish will replace Williams. Pardee isn't saying that now, preferring to play the coach's game of motivation by saying the job will go to the man who earns it in training camp.
That's all right by Parrish. "I'm ready to earn it," he said.
And when he earns it, Parrish said, he will be part of a good defensive team.
"If do my job the way 'm capable of, can spark the defense sometimes," he said. "What the coach is talking about is getting a better pass rush."
According to Parrish, the Redskins' pass rush also will be improved by this trade. He says Coy Bacon, a long-in-the-tooth defensive end, is still a formidable player.
"Shoot, know Coy will be able to help us there," Parrish said.
When Pardee and Beathard met the press early in their new jobs, both men did a crazyleg dance around the central question of the Allen administration: Can a team be a big winner consistently by trading for its key players.
With the Redskins, Allen traded away his No. 1 draft choice for seven straight years. The Dallas Cowboys, in contrast, built the nucleus of last season's Super Bowl champions around their No. 1 draft picks.
In return for his No. 1 choices, Allen acquired Drron Talbert, Verlon Biggs, Roy Jefferson, Richie Petitbon, Duane Thomas, Joe Theismann and Dave Butz.
With the exception of Thomas and Butz those men were valuable additions to the Redskins and probably played better than any No. 1 kid coming in fresh out of college.
But now most of them are gone. Talbert and Theismann are yet making important contributions, but where are the others?
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl last year with a squad that included seven No. 1 draft choices, none older than 27. Pardee and Beathard, dancing, both said they would improve the Redskins any way it could be done. they have chosen the Allen way of patching for the present, the future be damned.