The second episode of NFL Films’ five-part “Caught in the Draft” series, which examines a specific draft every week leading up to the 2014 NFL draft on May 8, airs tonight on NFL Network at 9 ET.
Tonight’s episode is about the 1974 NFL draft and focuses on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who changed the way franchises valued picks after becoming one of the first teams to build a championship team through the draft. There were five Hall of Famers who came out of the 1974 draft and the Steelers selected four of them: Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster.
Then-Redskins Coach George Allen is featured in the episode and serves as a foil to Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll. Allen, whose preference for veteran players gave rise to the Over-the-Hill Gang, was so willing to unload his draft picks that he traded the same pick to two different teams on more than one occasion.
Here’s sportswriter George Didinger on how George Allen viewed the draft:
“George made the draft such a farce that it was almost like people didn’t pay attention,” sportswriter Ray Didinger says. “It’s like, George is just trading his whole draft again, so nobody did the accounting that they should’ve done. He was a guy that was really smart, and I don’t want to say unscrupulous, but nothing was sacred with him. And when somebody would call him on it, he would profess, ‘Oh, I had no idea.'”
Redskins GM Bruce Allen appears in the episode and recalls one of the times NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle punished his dad.
In May 1972, the New York Times reported that Allen was fined a sum “believed to be $5,000” for trading bogus picks the year before. Allen had made the same mistake while coach of the Rams.
“Allen, who made 19 deals in his first season in charge of the Redskins, traded the club’s 1973 draft choice twice, first to the Jets and then to the Rams, and a third and fourth selection twice, first to the Buffalo Bills and then to the Chargers.
“The Redskins received in exchange for these choices four players–Verlon Briggs of the Jets, Ron McDole of the Bills, Richie Petitbon of the Rams and Speedy Duncan of the Chargers–who were key performers in the club’s successful season that took Washington into the playoffs for the first time since 1945.”
Allen and the Redskins made restitution arrangements with the Rams and Chargers, which involved giving away additional draft choices. Los Angeles received the Redskins’ first round pick in 1974 and traded it to Chicago, who used it to draft Michigan defensive end Dave Gallagher.
“The coach thus continued to mortgage the Redskins’ future source of young talent for seasoned players,” the Times noted.