George Allen, fired Sunday as head coach of the Los Angeleles Rams after just 6 1/2 months and two preseason games on the job, said yesterday that he was "shocked" by his abrupt dismissal and blamed it on "spoiled" players and the impatience of Rams' owner Carroll Rosenbloom.
Allen was watching film of the Rams' lackluster 17-0 exhibition game loss to the San Diego Chargers with his assistant coaches Sunday afternoon at the Ram training camp in Fullertonnn, Calif., when Rosenbloom, who had driven in from his home in fashionable Bel Air, summoned him to a meeting and told him he was being replaced.
"He told met the players are complaining that they are overworked, that their legs are tired, that our meetings are too long. That's the reason he gave me." Allen said of his face-to-face confrontation with the Super Bowl title-hungry Rosenbloom.
"But if they weren't overworked and grumpy, I'd worried. They're spoiled," Allen said of the Rams players.
"We worked them longer and harder then they're ever been worked here. But they won games before without doing the things I expect, so they didn't think they had to do them now . . . I did what I believed in, and I can live with myself," added Allen, who obviously felt victimized, even though he reportedly will collect his full salary (estimated at $200,000 annually) from the Rams for the remainder of his three-year contract, even if he accepts another coaching job.
Rosenbloom hired Allen on Feb. 1, less than two weeks after the Washington Redskins terminated stalled negotiations for extension of his seven-year tenure as head coach and general manager here, and made his mission unmistakably clear:
As coach, but nothing more, Allen was to guide the Rams - National Football Conference West Division champions the last five years under Chuck Knox, but never Super Bowl winners - to pro football's ultimate prize.
Rosenbloom then asked with swiftness seldom seen in the National Football League after the Rams scored only seven points in their first two preseason games: a 14-7 loss to the New England Patriots and the 17-0 humiliation by the Chargers on Saturday in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Rams, nearly as gentle on offense as their Embraceable Ewe cheerleaders, were savagely boned by home fans already disenchanted by Rosenbloom's decision to move the team to Anaheim in 1980 and by rumbles of discontent from training camp.
Apparently Rosenbloom also was unsettled by the walkout of five veteran players from camp and by other player criticism of Allen's prolonged practices and team meetings, his strict discipline and his spartan, dogmatic approach to football.
Allen, who compiled a 116-47-5 record in 12 successful but often stormy seasons as a National Football League head coach (1966-70 with the Rams under their previous owner, the late Dan Reeves, and 1971-77 with the Redskins), thinks his conservative system and austere coaching methods would have brought success to the Rams if given a proper trial.
"If we'd won one of those two exhibition games, this never would have happended. It's an unbelievable thing. Do you think I got a fair chance - two preseason games?" Allen said.
"You give a rookie coach more than two games, and I'm not a rookie. I've always been a successful coach . . . I told him [Rosenbloom] that what I have to offer is what the Rams need. He said there were several things, and he thought we wouldn't win if I continued as the coach. He said that I would work better in the framework of an organization where I'd be general manager and coach.
"All I know is that I did everything in my power. I did it the way it should be done. I did it my way." continued Allen. ". . . The only way I know how to coach is to work hard, to be totally dedicated. I don't spare myself, and I dreamed the same of everyone else."
Allen acknowledged that the Rams played poorly on Saturday, but said he expected the team to come around. "I thought that loss would wake us up," he said. ". . . In one week, the whole squad can change.
"I don't know why I was fired. I only know one way: give it all you have, work hard, be dedicated and committed to your job. I give my heart and soul to football.
"There is no question in my mind the team was going to come around. We were playing 70 guys. There was our new system. We had bumps and bruises."
It is ironic that Allen, who reportedly was trying to strike a deal with the Rams while presumably negotiating a new contract with the Redskins, now feels betrayed by Rosenbloom.
"I could have had any number of jobs." he said. "It hurts because I came out here to win a Super Bowl. I'm sorry it turned out this way . . . I think I made a serious mistake in giving up a great job in Washington."
Allen said his latest firing, the most bizarre of his four dismissals as an NFL head coach (Reeves fired him twice) was "a traumatic experience."
"I'm shocked by the whole thing. We still have unpacked boxes in the house. We have another moving van coming tomorrow," said Allen, who retained his seaside home in Palos Verdes, Calif., throughout his seven years employment in Washington. "I don't know whether we'll stay here or come back to Virginia."
Allen said he wants to stay in coaching, and most NFL insiders think that he will be offered another job before the end of the upcoming season by an owner mandating him to do what he did imn Los Angeles the first time, and in Washington: turn a loser into an instant winner. (Of the active coaches with 100 or more NFL regular-season victories, Allen is the only one who never had a losing season.)
Next time, though, he will demand the front office authority that Rosenbloom denied him.
"When I take another job," Allen said yesterday, " it will be as head coach and general manager."
In the meantime, Allen will wait and see that develops among the NFL have-nots.
"Everyone should have a sabbatical, and this is my year for a sabbatical," he said, trying to find some humor in what seemed a grim situation.
"I think I'll get a job as a TV commentator," added the long-tim baiter of media types, "so I can tell the coach he should have run on third down when he passed."