We can assume that the Redskins' next coach will not be a main brain from another NFL team. Here's why. Of the 28 head coaches, only seven ever were bosses at other places. Of those seven, only three moved directly from one team to the next. Of those three, only two left jobs voluntarily. Chuck Knox was about to be burned at the stake by Carroll Rosenbloom when he fled Los Angeles for Buffalo. Don Shula left Rosenbloom, too, but that was eons ago in Baltimore. Since then, only one current coach has quit on his own. He was a man who said he was moving to the job of his dreams. Jack Pardee said it.
This limited movement between teams seems to be evidence of an old-boys' agreement that if you don't tempt my coach, I won't steal yours. With all that TV money coming in no matter if they win or lose, the NFL old boys play gentlemanly games. So gentlemanly that it was strange, indeed, three seasons ago when a coach quit his team of seven seasons in order to take a better job with better players. He was a man who said going back to L.A. was like a dream. George Allen said it.
Allen's desertion of the Redskins made it possible for Pardee to move in, which was convenient for both men, to say nothing of both men's lawyer, who happens to be one and the same man. Allen was fired quickly by Rosenbloom, who was brave enough to admit a terrible mistake, and Pardee went on to become the NFL coach of the year his second season with the Redskins.
Now, after three years, Pardee and Allen are connected again, for now Pardee has fallen from favor, from geniius to bumbler over the matter of four more losses this season than last, and everytime you open your ears somebody is saying those horrible words, "George is coming back." At a Christmas party, a courtly gentleman crouched in front of me, taking a gunfighter's pose, his finger cocked, and he said, "George is coming back."
This clearly was an attempt to induce cardiac arrest. I survived by muttering, "Bah, humbug."
But everywhere I turn, the ghost of George is there.
A magazine editor from New York had a wonderful story of how wide the chasm is between George and reality. The CBS boys were out late at night in Runyon's, a saloon famous for those golden moments when the owner, Joe Healy, takes up his statue of George Herman Ruth and whispers softly into the Babe's ceramic ear. Well, the CBS boys bellied up to the tables of this oasis.
John Madden said, "Gimme a Lite."
The CBS p.r. guy said, "Double Scotch."
George Allen said, "I'd like an apple."
The waiter said, "An apple?"
"Yes, an apple," the coach said. And so it happened that Joe Healy sent across the street to a deli and delivered to George Allen, neatly sliced and placed on a plate, the only apple ever eaten in Runyon's.
A Washington writer with Los Angeles connections says he has heard, from a "reliable source," that Allen says he has been offered the Redskins' job. The writer says Allen is saying he "ought to get more money" because of "the other offer." Presumbly, New Orleans wants George, too. Jack Kent Cooke, who owns the Redskins, denies any offer has been made to Allen.
Allen's name comes up here naturally out of his seven years with the Redskins and his current lust to return to coaching. (In "The Man Who Came to Dinner," there is a calculating lady who by her misbehavior comes to be called "The Duchess of Pushover." Allen could be her duke.) It is a fact, too, that in his tenure with the Redskins, Allen curried favor with Cooke, then the absentee majority-stock owner, even as George was making life miserable for the operating president, minority owner Edward Bennett Williams.
So perhaps Cooke, who had nothing t o do with hiring Pardee (save to rubber-stamp EBW's recommendation), will want to hire back the only coach to take the Redskins to the Super Bowl.
Against that chilling possibility -- chilling because Allen ruined the Redskins, trading away the future, missing the playoffs two of his last three seasons, not winning a single playoff game after his second season here, playing the dullest defensive football seen this side of the Flintstones' church picnic -- against the chilling possibility that Cooke might send a search party into the wilderness and extricate Allen, I offer here five lists of coaches' names.
IF YOU CAN BUY THE CHRYSLER BUILDING, YOU MIGHT BUY ONE OF THESE:
1. Tom Landry.
2. Don Shula.
3. Dick Vermeil.
YOU MIGHT STEAL SOMEBODY:
1. Bum Phillips.
2. Sam Rutigliano.
3. Bill Walsh.
RAID THE COLLEGES:
1. Joe Paterno. (If you hired him, you wouldn't have to change the monograms on the coach's towels.)
2. John Robinson.
3. Bobby Bowden.
GET 'EM OUT OF RETIREMENT:
1. Ara Parseghian.
2. John Madden.
KEEP 'EM IN RETIREMENT:
1. George Allen.
2. George Allen.
3. George Allen.