George Allen has let it be known he is interested in the vacancy at East Rutherford, N.J. If Wellington Mara so much as casts an inquiring glance his way, Allen will fall into a loving embrace with the owner of the Giants.
Allen has said he has learned anew that coaching is his life, after spending one season of Sunday afternoons in the TV booth. Too confining for a man of his genius with the troops. He was the unhappy coach. The coach without a football team. The coach who was watching other coaches overlook too many ways to win games. Watching was like dying for the man who once said losing was like dying.
So when the Giants fired John McVay the other day, Allen waited a decent interval before gesturing verbally for Mara's attention. "If they have the right coach and right leadership they can have a great season in 1979...there's no question about it,I know the Giants' personnel."
Allen to the Giants is a mating made in heaven, on the face of it. For most of 15 years, the Giants have been an NFL disaster, escaping last place only once in the last five seasons. Ergo,they need a winning coach. Allen's resume shows he has never had a losing season. The Giants also need a general manager. Coach-general manager Allen put the Redskins in the playoffs five times in seven years. He also could remind Mara that his Redskin teams licked the Giants 10 straight times over one span.
Mara announced this weekthat he is seeking a "proven, successful NFL coach" So, what is delaying Wellington Mara?
Plenty, beginning with the fact that he does not like George Allen personally. There is a memory of one year when Allen rubbed it in cruelly, calling a timeout in the last six seconds to get the Redskins another, unnecesary touchdown against the already humiliated Giants.
It would also be of some domestic risk if Mara were to hire Allen. Last year when the Giants did win a game in Washington the happiest Mara was his wife. At the game's end, while descending in the RFK stadium elevator, Mrs, Mara gave expression to her feelings.
"Take that George Allen," she said" and that and that and that ." She didn't like "that man," she said.
Mrs.Mara's vote on the wisdom of hiring Allen as the Giants' coach will not be necessary, however. Mara will say him nay for considerations of his own. Mara won't hire Allen for the same reason that Ram owner Carroll Rosenbloom and the Redskin president, Edward Bennett Williams, fired him, both within eight months: the team that hires him no longer belongs to its owner, so driven is Allen to move into full command.
Khalil Gibran, the favorite of many, never knew George Allen but he foresaw him when he wrote "The Prophet." Gibran warned of the creeping lust, of the "thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master."
In Washington, Allen pre-empted too many of the owner's prerogatives, according to Williams, and the games he won with the Redskins weren't worth the bother of Allen's presence. In Los Angeles, Rosenbloom was even more blunt after firing Allen. "That man was trying to take my team away from me." he told a friend.
Besides the Rams, Rosenbloom owns many things, including oil wells and most of those films you see on the late, late show and part of the Cosmos soccer team.
"But football is my big interest," said the old Penn halfback, "and I like to be close to the Rams. The way Allen was assuming authority, he was isolating me from my own team. I had to admit my mistake and fire him."
With that action, Rosenbloom conferred on Allen a new distinction: only coach to be fired by the same team three times, The late Dan Reeves had to fire allen twice before he could make it stick, so securely had Allen bought his players' loyalty by inflating their salaries with Reeves' money.
Allen will no get the job, but were he named coach of the Giants, any at tempt by Allen to expand his domain would be met with no less than armed resistance at every point by Mara. Rosenbloom and Williams are pussycats compared to Wellington Mara's raging distate for yielding up authority over the Giants.
More than any other team in the NFL, the Giants are "family" - Mara's extended family, which embraces not only his mother and nephew, who own parts of the team, but old Giant players from whom he picks most of his coaches and scouts and present Giant, players who Mara regards as next of kith and kin. Coaches without a Giant background were a rarity until late years.
It is precisely the family aspect that has brought down on Mara the criticism that his operations have too long been too tribal. It is notable that when he did agree five years ago to hire a general manager instead of overseeing all draft and trade an hiring practices himself, Mara chose - who else - andy Robustelli, an old tried an true Giant.
Now Robusetlli has resigned in the midst of fan despair and placards like "Fifteen Years of Lousy Football - we've Had Enough."
George Allen, with no team to coach, is sensitive to the unrest and crisis now plaguing the Giants. He also is aware of all those draft choices the Giants have husbanded. Out in his southern California manse by the sea, Allen's phone is open. The man who used to take 24 hours to return a call is now ready to answer all rings, coach, not a commander in chief.