- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 4, 2002

CANTON, Ohio — Deacon Jones had no trouble summing up George Allen as he presented his former coach for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday. Jones, a Hall of Famer in his own right, said the Washington Redskins legend was about "teamwork, hard work, pride, determination and a competitive spirit."

Allen died on New Years Eve 1990 at 72, not long after coaching Long Beach State to a 6-5 season and completing a 24-year career that included no losing seasons. He was the 14th Hall of Famer to be enshrined posthumously. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) accepted the honor on his fathers behalf.

"George Allen is with us in the living spirit of all of us who have gathered to celebrate this pinnacle of football honors," his son said at a ceremony in which Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly, Pittsburgh receiver John Stallworth, Chicago defensive tackle Dan Hampton and Oakland tight end Dave Casper also were inducted. "He would have seen this as a team victory for all the players, coaches and staff who were on our teams. George Allen loved his players. He loved his coaches. He loved the game. To my father: I hope youre enjoying this reunion, because many of the gang are here."

Hall of Famers Jones, Merlin Olsen, Tom Mack, Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor, Ken Houston, John Riggins and Marv Levy sat on the stage in Fawcett Stadium. Billy Kilmer, Diron Talbert, Ron McDole, Brig Owens, Jack Pardee, Maxie Baughn, Mike Bragg, Bob Brunet, Eddie Brown, Dallas Hickman (whose first name the Cowboys-hating Allen wouldnt utter), assistants Ted Marchibroda and Charlie Waller, trainer Bubba Tyer and equipment manager Tommy McVean were among those at ground level, along with Allens widow, Etty; sons Greg and Bruce (the Raiders senior vice president) and Jennifer, who authored a book about growing up as Allens only daughter and named her sons for Jones and Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel.

"Football was what I did for a living until 1971," said Brunet, a Redskin throughout Allens seven-year Washington tenure. "But George gave me a junior high excitement about playing football again. I didnt want the season to end as soon it did, I was getting ready for the next year. I came back in 1972 in the best shape of my life."

Fanatical about details, Allen critiqued how his players broke the huddle. He demanded a chart that showed the suns position during games. Allen developed the nickel defense as a Bears assistant and was one of the first coaches to emphasize special teams, keeping such players as Brunet and Bill Malinchak solely for their ability to cover and block kicks.

As Sen. Allen said, "The establishment didnt always welcome his innovative ideas or methods of assembling winning teams [constantly dealing draft choices for veterans, many of whom were seen as washed up or malcontent], but he had the courage of his convictions and because of that he was stronger, his team was stronger and the game was stronger."

The younger Allen recalled the 1971 birth of what became his fathers motto. The new Redskins coach was asked about the state of the teams future with so many older players.

Said Sen. Allen, "My father replied, 'The future! This team hasnt been to the playoffs for [25 years] and youre worried about the future! The future is now! And indeed it was. Those seven years with the Redskins were like Camelot and a winning tradition was born."

Especially at RFK Stadium. A city slowly recovering from the riots of 1968 and about to lose its baseball team embraced Allens "Over the Hill Gang" with fervor during a 5-0 start. That love affair never waned as the Redskins posted seven straight winning seasons and made the playoffs five times.

The 26-3 rout of Dallas in the 1972 NFC Championship — 18 years to the day before Allens death — was one of the coachs 40 victories in 51 contests at RFK. Fired by owner Edward Bennett Williams in a power struggle in 1978, Allen returned to the Rams only to be forced out before the season even began. Allen never worked in the NFL again, although Vince Lombardi, John Madden and Joe Gibbs are the only coaches with at least 100 victories who posted higher winning percentages than his .681.

Notes — Ailing defensive end Bruce Smith, who didnt accompany the Redskins to Osaka, Japan, for last nights preseason opener against San Francisco, was in Canton to salute longtime Buffalo teammate Kelly. When Sen. Allen cited Jones as the best defensive end ever, Bills fans screamed, "Bruuuce!" Allen, a former Virginia quarterback, noted that Smith had attended Virginia Tech and reiterated that while Smith is very good, Jones was better.

Allen is the 14th Hall of Famer who spent most of his career with the Redskins, joining Gibbs, Houston, Mitchell, Riggins, Taylor, Cliff Battles, Sammy Baugh, Bill Dudley, Turk Edwards, Ray Flaherty, Sonny Jurgensen, George Preston Marshall and Wayne Millner.

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