Claiming he "didn't want anything festering between us," George Allen made a long-distance telephone call to Redskin President Edward Bennett Williams Tuesday and told him, "I made a very bad mistake not signing my contract last year."
On a day when Williams offered a strong vote of confidence for his current coach, Jack Pardee, he spoke at length about his telephone conversation with Allen, the man he fired in January 1978.
"The call came right out of the blue," Williams said. "It was the first time he's talked to me since he left that seat (in Williams' office the day Allen was dismissed). He called to tell me he had made a terrible mistake, and he wanted to tell me privately what he'd been saying publicly.
"He wanted to tell me that everything I told him about his contract (with the Redskins) was true and he should have signed it and that he regrets making the move," Williams said.
"I offered him the best contract in football and he turned it down. He told me he got the world's worst possible advice, that he was the victim of horrible advice. I had heard he'd said that to a lot of people, but he'd never said it to me.
"It was good to hear him call up and straighten out our personal relationship. He said he was wrong and he was sorry he'd said the things he'd said.
"I haven't said a bad word publicly about George Allen. I've said time and again publicly I think he's a great coach. I'm glad he's straight in his own thinking, and that he was man enough to say it."
Allen, who had described Williams as "devious and deceitful... a Jekyll and Hyde... an actor.. a cold-blooded fish" after he had been fired, yesterday was full of sunshine and roses for his former boss.
"That's exactly right," Allen said from his Palos Verdes, Calif., home after he was read Williams' version of the kiss-and-make-up call.
"The things Ed told me have turned out to be absolutely correct -- that I had a good job and a good situation, and all the legal things. He turned out to be 100 percent correct on it.
"I just decided to call him up and let him know. I wanted to get it off my chest. It's not my nature to be vindictive. I feel good about it. We've always been good friends. We think alike. He's a winner, we're both competitive people. We had a good conversation."
Allen still is seeking work as a head coach, and Williams was asked if he had asked him for a job.
"He didn't ask me," Williams said, smiling.
"I'm talking to people, but I can't say anything at this time," Allen said of his job hunt.
"I did learn one thing this year. I can make more money not coaching than I can coaching.
"But if somebody wants to win and wants a program that has won under all circumstances and they want dedication from a coach and a staff and a (certain) playoff team rather than something that might be successful, then they'll go with my program."
Williams, meanwhile, is more concerned these days with the Redskin program for rebuilding, and during the course of a 60-minute interview yesterday, he said he was not surprised about his team's 8-8 record in 1978.
"I thought we'd be in a year of transition, and it will be more than a year," Williams said. "Our ball club got too old. The way we had previously dealt with that problem was to trade draft picks and sign optioned-out players.
"But they repealed the rules on George, and that method is no longer available. To sign option playouts, you need current draft choices, and we didn't have any left. The rule was probably changed to prevent him from using the Allen method.
"I think Jack did a good job. I was perfectly satisfied with his performance. I think we'll do better and we'll be a better team each year from now on.
"But we are paying the price for trading away the future picks we traded when George was here. I'm not saying that critically of him, either. We needed instant success in 1971... we'd had a long famine. We needed success in a hurry, and that policy was good for its time. But it won't last forever."
Williams was sharply critical of veteran defensive end Ron McDole, who blamed Pardee for the team's dismal fold in comments published yesterday. McDole, 39, was told earlier in the week he no longer fits into the team's plan.
"McDole made a great contribution to the Redskins," Williams said, "but he can't play football forever. He'll be 40 in September. There comes a time when it's the end of the line and you have to face up to that. I'm sorry he went out expressing bitterness toward the best friend he's ever had in the NFL, Jack Pardee.
"Jack had the same controls and the same disciplines from game 1 to game 16. You didn't hear any of that kind of talk the first half of the season when they were winning.
"Jack isn't a new coach, he's been a head coach for four years in this league. He's had well-disciplined, well-organized teams everywhere he's been. Conversations you hear criticizing him come from cry-babies upset because they weren't playing.
"The Redskins didn't pick up McDole's contract because it is the unanimous judgment that he couldn't play any more."
Williams said Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard are actively pursuing trades that might improve the team's draft position (their first choice will come in the fourth round).
He said he expects Billy Kilmer to return for the remaining year on his contract. "He's never expressed any desire to retire that I know of," Williams said. "No, I don't think there's been any conversation about him in a trade. I haven't heard of any interest in him."
Did Williams consider any of his current players untouchable for trading purposes?
"I think they've all said out there (at Redskin Park), from the coach, the head of personnel and the general manager, that there are no untouchables. If that is their judgment, then that is my judgment. No one is untouchable if we can improve ourselves."
Williams dismissed as sheer nonsense one report that he had spoken with Miami Coach Don Shula about the Redskin coaching job and another that the team was up for sale, with a $26 million price tag.
"I have never talked to Shula about coaching the Redskins," he said. "That was a story put out to create dissension within our organization. I have no interest in talking to him because I have complete confidence in Jack Pardee. That is totally irresponsible journalism.
"The only time I've seen Shula was in 1978, when his team was in town to play the Redskins. I saw him on the field before the game and I talked to him about his son at Dartmouth for a couple of minutes.
"I also don't have any idea how that story about the team being for sale came out. I guarantee you the Redskins are not for sale. That's absolute hokum.
"Jack Kent Cooke (the team's principal stockholder) knows we're in a transition period and that we have to substitute youth for age. They called this the Over The Hill gang in 1972. The sands of time just ran out.
"Every time I read a letter saying 'How could you let Len Hauss go?' or let this old player go, well, the fact is they just got too old. Most of them played a couple of years beyond what any coach in the league thought they should be playing."
Williams announced there would be no increase in ticket prices this season, nor would the Redskins require their season ticket holders to purchase tickets for the team's one home exhibition game next summer against Cleveland.
He said he knows of no plans to enlarge RFK Stadium's seating capacity, but he said the team is contractually committed to play at the stadium through the 1991 season.
He also indicated he has no plans at the moment to step down as president of the club, a position he has occupied the last 14 years.
"Yeah, I'll stay," he said. "I'd like to see this thing get back on track. We've won 60 percent of our games since I've been president. I'd like to get it to 70 percent. That's passing."