George Allen's death yesterday at the age of 72 shocked and saddened former players, all agreeing that no one in the game wanted to win more than him.

"All George Allen ever thought about was the next football game and the next season," said former quarterback Billy Kilmer in a television interview. "He taught the Redskins and the town how to win."

Allen coached the Redskins in 1971-77. A contract dispute with the late team president, Edward Bennett Williams, resulted in Allen being fired and going to the Los Angeles Rams. But owner Carroll Rosenbloom fired him two games into the exhibition season. He had two winning seasons (1983-84) in the defunct U.S. Football League, before returning to coaching this year, guiding Long Beach State to a 6-5 record, its first winning season in four years.

"I was thrilled by his returning to coaching this season and doing so well," said Ray Schoenke, who played guard for Allen's Redskins teams. "He was an inspiration. He has a great ability to pick players and let them be themselves."

Redskins' owner Jack Kent Cooke, who resided in California and Las Vegas during the Allen era, nevertheless was close to Allen. "I'm devastated by the news," Cooke said in a statement. "George was one of my favorite coaches in my time in professional sports."

Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs said: "George Allen was a great football man and will leave his mark on all levels of coaching. He was a great motivator and helped establish the tradition of winning here with the Redskins." Allen is the winningest coach in Redskins history with a 67-30-1 mark.

Richie Petitbon, the assistant head coach of the Redskins, was an all-star safety for Allen when Allen was defensive coach of the Bears. When Allen became Redskins coach in 1971, he brought Petitbon with him. In their first game here, Petitbon intercepted three passes.

"Players loved him," said Petitbon. "He was a great guy to play for. His basic philosophy was it's us against them and we'll make enemies of everybody -- the press, the opposition, whoever came along. Everyone was against us. It was really very effective. He was a great motivator."

Joe Theismann, whom Allen traded for in 1974, remembered Allen as having an "unrelenting" desire to win. "He was an innovator, creating the special teams coach, five-man lines and generating rivalries," recalled Theismann.

"I flew to Washington from Los Angeles with him last year. He asked me why they {NFL owners} never gave him another chance after the Rams let him go. I told him I thought the owners didn't want to give someone so much control. He said, 'I guess you're right.' "