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Republican senator calls for smaller government; Rams fire coach, December 27, 1968

December 27, 2008 |  8:00 am
Here's an impressive lineup of writers: Art Seidenbaum, Sen. Everett M. Dirksen (R-Ill), William F. Buckley, and Evans and Novak.

1968_1227_sports By any measure, George Allen was a highly successful football coach. But after a holiday phone call from Rams owner Dan Reeves, Allen was unemployed.

"George is a great coach and a fine family man," Reeves said. "It is a case of a personality conflict, perhaps, more my fault than George's."

Allen was 29-10-3 in three seasons with the Rams and seemed shocked. Several players threatened open revolt and attended a news conference with Allen to show their support.

"Reeves will have a young team next year," said one of the veterans, offensive tackle Charlie Cowan. "I think that all the players with five or more years' experience will want to leave Los Angeles."

Columnists Jim Murray and John Hall weighed in and neither sounded too surprised by the firing.

"Some people thought he acted too hastily," Murray wrote of Reeves. "I have the feeling that when he saw one-third of his team marching on TV behind the coach the other day, he thought he hadn't acted hastily enough."

Hall said the Rams' public relations staff should be credited for protecting Allen's image. "One truth you can write the book on is that Reeves strongly feels football -- even play-for-pay pro football -- demands a certain dignity. ... There have been many times when Allen's grimly all-out, no smiles, 24 hours a day, death march approach to football has distressed Reeves."

At the news conference, Allen tried to describe the phone call from Reeves.

"I said, 'Merry Christmas, Dan.' Then I can't quite remember, I think he said, 'This is the end -- you're fired. I didn't want to do it before Christmas.' "

--Keith Thursby