When the minstrel Tom T. Hall wrote that the secrets of long life are younger women, faster horses, stronger whiskey -- and more money -- it was obvious he had not spoken to any National Football League coaches.

Pro football coaches are the most insecure beings in all of sport -- and at the moment each of them could give Tom T. an earful. But they would have to line up behind George Allen, who was hired by the Rams to win the Super Bowl and fired two weeks into the preseason.

In Tampa Bay, John McKay needs somebody who can throw a football and in Washington Jack Pardee needs somebody who can catch it. In St. Louis, Bud Wilkinson wants somebody who can stop average runners and catchers, and in San Diego Tommy Prothro would like for Don Coryell -- and Allen -- to stop looking over his shoulder.

Should coaches demand combat pay? Consider this question: in terms of longevity with one team, who is the senior coach in the NFC West? Warner, no fair calling in from New York. But you're right, it's Leeman Bennett, in just his second season with the Atlanta Falcons.

Chuck Knox averaged almost 11 victories for five years with the Rams and got them into the playoffs each season. He was shuffled off to Buffalo. Allen won nearly 70 per cent of his games in seven years with the Redskins -- and was fired, before being fired again.

What would Allen be doing if he had remained the Redskins' coach? Probably not much that Pardee is not doing, except for that 3-4 defense currently the rage in the NFL. George would call it a gimmick --and he might be right.

Allen is a certified defensive genius -- and he might have leaped even quicker than Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard to grab Coy Bacon and Lemar Parrish from the Bengals for a mere No. 1 draft choice.

But it seems certain Allen would have been licking his thumb and tugging his baseball cap with even more vigor as this season approached, aware more than anyone that the team was slip slidin' ever so inevitably from the NFL elite.

Like Pardee, Allen would have needed a major trade -- and some luck with injuries -- for any hope of, say, a 10-6 record and a spot as one of the two NFC wild-card teams in the playoffs.

We recall that Allen built a superior team about as quickly as possible in pro sports -- two years. The longer the time span from when it happened the more impressive it seems.

Two years, from a 6-8 season to the Super Bowl. And then Allen found that lofty peak impossible to hold, mainly because the Dallas Cowboys have the best players, the best coach and the best front office in the whole league.

Nearly everyone else had seen a fat and aging defensive end in Buffalo; but Allen had seen the anchor of a fine defensive line. He paid a stiff price --but Ron McDole was more than worth it.

Where nearly everyone else had seen a wonderfully spirited but over-the-hill quarterback, Allen saw a man who could inspire a good team to be a great team. Billy Kilmer came cheap --and was everything Allen imagined.

The Diron Talberts and Pardees, John Wilburs and some lesser-magnitude stars reinforced Allen's reputation as a master trader. Then suddenly he hit a slump -- and the team still is paying for his giving too much for Duane Thomas and, so far, Dave Butz.

There were sellouts for Redskin games long before Allen arrived in '71, but nothing like the special passion his '72 team generated or that four-week stretch in '75 when three games went into overtime.

Allen last season was blessed with about as easy a schedule as anyone could possibly hope for, with only four games against teams that won more games than they lost. Pardee is not so fortunate.

There was some fuss generated when the NFL released a schedule format for this season that tries to have teams of similar strength playing each other as frequently as would be fair to everyone.

How has it worked out? Let the NFL answer.

In one of its preseason magazines, the league rated the schedule difficulty, based on combined won-lost percentages of the opposition last season. The Jets, Eagles and Chargers have the toughest schedules. The Redskins have the seventh toughest.

The Colts and Raiders have the 10th toughest, the Cowboys the 17th. And the second easiest, just a wee bit tougher than Tampa Bay's? Allen's latest former team, the Rams.