It has been suggested that George Allen might be the next pope, because the college of cardinals is a team full of veterans who want to win now, but the old Redskin coach has several other options available.
"I think what he should do is start a football coaches' union," said his wife, Etty. "Oh, they say we'll pay you, but what good does that do? What does it do for mental attitudes, pride, self-esteem? How can you compensate for that?"
The Allen union could put a price tag on self-esteem. Say a coach is fired after five years. His self-esteem could be restored for a fee of $28,765. Pride, of course, would come more dearly. The union would demand $100,000 per year of service, the fee escalating steeply in unusual cases of firings done after, say, two NFL exhibitions. That would cost an owner his autographed photo of Pete Rozelle.
Without a war, Patton was aimless, and without a football team to coach, Allen will climb the walls. The day the Rams fired him, Allen said maybe he would be a TV commentator and tell coaches they should have run, not passed, on third down. If not that, he soon will have Etty running pass patterns in the backyard.
Or he could become a writer.
"He's had a lot of offers to write books," Etty said the other day. "If he does, it wouldn't be just another football book."
It is hard to imagine George Allen slaving over a hot typewriter.
In direct violation of the Sportswriters Union basic contract, Allen eats ice cream, runs six miles a day, never says a naughty word and believes football coaches are in their right minds.
The old Redskin coach is also wealthy. The Rams promised to pay him $600,000 over the next three years. A man sitting on a wallet with $600,000 in it has a hard time reaching the typewriter keys. Herman melville might never have written "Moby Dick" if the Nantucket Whalers had paid him $600,000 to go lay in the Southern California sun.
A bigger problem is that Allen, like many football coaches and a few presidents, has never written a whole word. From Whittier College through his days as a coach there and later with the Bears, Rams. Redskins and the Rams again (briefly), Allen has filled blackboards and playbooks with his best literary efforts, even illustrating them with nice directional arrows.
And the only letters he used were Xs and Os.
Ernest Hemingway used more letters than that.
Because any publisher would be reluctant to put out a book called, "Xs and Os I Have Known, by George Allen," it is obvious the coach will need good advice before buying a typewriter with a full-alphabet keyboard.
For that advice, he could drive down the coast and visit his old buddy, Richard Nixon. He, like Allen, once worked in Washington before moving to California to become a distinguished author.
"George, long-time, no-see," Nixon would say. "This takes me back to '72."
"Your mandate year," Allen would say.
"And your Super Bowl year. America loved me, George, and Edward Bennet Williams loved you. "I'll never forget the time you ran a play I suggested. A magnificent play, an end-around by Roy Jefferson. Won the game. What memories you bring back, George."
"We lost 13 years on that play, Dick, and we lost the game, but we didn't feel bad because anytime president of the United States wants to call a football play, any good American will say it is in the national interest."
"A fine play," a contemplative Nixon would say before suddenly noticing Allen again. "What brings you to San Clemente? Are the Redskins playing out here?"
"Dick, I'm not with the Redskins now. I quit them last January and joined up with the Rams."
"Wonderful, wonderful. They need someone to straighten them out and you're just the man. I liked you, George, even before anybody called your Nixon-with-a-whistle."
"Actually, I'm not with the Rams now, either. Some players are upset with me . . ."
"Damn protesters," Nixon would mutter.
". . . and we lost our first two exhibition games. So the owner said it was time to make a change and he fired me. I've decided to become a writer and I thought I could get some good advice from you."
"Do you want David Frost's phone number?"
"I wondered where you get your ideas for your writing. Is it hard?"
"It was terrifically easy, George. First you get elected president. Then you put a taping system in your office. It makes great reading."
"Now I know why they called you Allen-with-a-Sony," Allen said, discouraged. "Maybe I should stick to football."
"If you need any plays, let me know."