The National Football League training camps are opening without George Allen on the field, but the Redskins' former coach is keeping a high profile, once again saying that the club owners' desire to win is blunted by assured income from television.
In an intervieiw with Bob Oates of the Los Angeles Times, Allen was asked what is keeping him out of coaching. "I think Billy Kilmer (now an owner of horses) said it best," Allen replied. "He said that if NFL owners were paid off like horse owners I wouldn't be out of a job for five minutes. Kilmer's point is that in a 12-horse race, only the first four finishers share in the purse. But in the NFL all 28 teams share equally in the TV receipts ($5.5 million annually)."
Was Allen saying that to make money in the NFL today they don't need Allen (116-47-5) and never a losing season)?
"That's what Kilmer said. The way things are now you finish 2-14 every year, you still make a bundle. In fact, you raise ticket prices."
Edward J. DeBartole Jr., president of the San Francisco 49ers, 2-14 the past two seasons, said, "I would rather have a couple more tough seasons with people I can live with, and lose, than win the people with whom I am not on the same wavelength.
"I respect George Allen. He is an excellent coach and I'm sure in the future he will have other opportunities to do his thing, whatever that is. He needs a unique situation.
"Profit has no relation to winning or losing, except that a deficit would reflect on your front office, because it is almost impossible to lose money now in the NFL.
"My goal as an owner -- and I will be the owner till the day I die (he is 34) -- is to have a club that is perennially competitive, to have respect, to run a high-class organization.
"I'm comfortable with Bill Walsh; he is a fine coach. We've had a 5-9 season, then back-to-back 2-14 seasons. We know there will be a couple more tough seasons, but I have 100 percent confidence in him.
"You can't win the Super Bowl every year. We don't want to win it, say, twice and then sag. I take a loss (as hard as) Walsh and any other owner, but I'll be able to look back and say it was worth it. We will be able to lose and hold our heads high. There will be no 'laughing all the way to the bank.'"
Paul Brown, general manager of the Cincinnati Bengals, said, "I couldn't disagree more with George Allen.We're busting our can to get turned around. We didn't like two straight 4-12 seasons a blooming bit. We haven't raised ticket prices. We're not satisfied; we're awfully tired of what goes with not winning.
"We want to be known as a good team. Our (NFL) owners are always vying to make the playoffs and win the championship. The coaches' careers are at stake.
"I don't know of an owner who doesn't want to win more than make money. A Clint Murchison (Dallas owner) -- a Lamar Hunt (Kansas City owner), they suffer when they have a bad year. I know; I'm in it. Money . . . that never enters my mind."
Tex Schramm of the Cowboys said, "I don't believe George himself believes that stuff he is saying; he's been too closely associated with football.
"Nine-tennis of the owners would give up the money to win; people are not in football for the money. You've got to have money to afford to be in it.
"I would ask George what it is that is so reprehensible about him -- if anything is -- that some clubs don't take him. Even if they didn't have to win to make money, it still would be nice to win. Why don't they hire him, he should ask himself.
"I think he is a very talented coach and his record shows it. If the NFL teams don't need to spend money, why were we spending hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to draft 11 players (the Cowboys had traded away their No. 1 pick)?
"If you carried that arugment of Allen's down, you wouldn't need to do anything. Why are you hearing about all of those gigantic salaries? As to his logic, or whatever it is, about why he has not been hired, he should look at it openly and honestly, not on the basis that teams don't have an incentive to win.
"If they didn't, the league wouldn't be as successful and as balanced as it is."
Dominic Olejniczak, president of the Green Bay Packers, who finished 1979 with a 5-11 record, said, "If it weren't for the sharing of the television revenue, a lot of teams wouldn't be in business.
"Regardless of the TV money, we are striving to win. Allen doesn'tt know what he's talking about.
"I don't know of a team that is not trying through the draft, or other ways, to improve its position. We just don't have an opening for a coach; we have one (Bart Starr)."
Bob Irsay, president and treasurer of the Baltimore Colts, who are coming off two straight 5-11 seasons, said, "I don't believe everything George Allen says.I like George, but I think he's got some misfacts (sic) financially.
"Nobody is making a fortune in pro football. The cost of my coaches' and players' salaries is more than we get from TV. Then there is the front office, the trainers and the cost of our new training facility.
"I got rid of about 10 or 11 players already who shouldn't have been around last season, I'm excited about our new coach (Mike McCormack). I think Hank Stram, George Allen and a couple other coaches are just looking for jobs. I'm happy with mine."