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Robbers shoot couple on Santa Monica tennis court, Bills seek new coach, December 19, 1968

December 19, 2008 |  8:00 am

My heart skipped a beat when I pulled up this page. Of course, this is the beginning of the Geronimo Pratt case. Note the Ted Thackery Jr. byline. -- lrh


1968_1219_sports The Buffalo Bills had big plans in 1968. Not only was USC star O.J. Simpson available, they were flirting with a new home and new coach.

The potential coach was George Allen of the Rams. According to The Times' Bob Oates, Allen was in line to become the Bills' coach and general manager and possibly Simpson's first pro coach. Oates said Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson would ask the Rams "in a day or so" for permission to talk with Allen. "This is news to me. I have not talked with Mr. Wilson," Allen told Oates.

There was plenty of first-rate speculation in Oates' story. One element was the Bills' possible move to Seattle if Wilson didn't get a new stadium. Wrote Oates: "Friends of Allen expressed doubt that he would be enthusiastic about Buffalo, but said they 'wouldn't be surprised' if he goes to Seattle."

Then there was the matter of where Simpson would end up. The Bills had the first pick in the draft but apparently were listening to trade offers, including one to the Chargers for several players. Earlier Times stories discussed the Rams deciding not to trade their three first-round picks for a chance to draft Simpson.

But the Bills in Seattle? O.J. in San Diego? How either might have changed the NFL.

As for Allen, one other interesting item from Oates' story: Rams owner Dan Reeves gave the coach a $25,000 bonus check at the end of the season. According to Oates, the bonus "was Reeves' answer to reports that there have been disagreements between him and the coach."

Was $25,000 enough to keep everyone happy? Stay tuned.

--Keith Thursby