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Tex Maule
September 07, 1964
Gambling on Tittle is only one example of the brinksmanship practiced by Allie Sherman, who also has scrapped his defense.
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September 07, 1964

A Pedantic Professor Who Likes To Buck Long Odds

Gambling on Tittle is only one example of the brinksmanship practiced by Allie Sherman, who also has scrapped his defense.

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Sherman began training himself to be a head coach methodically. After he made the grade as the No. 2 quarterback of the Eagles, he changed roommates every year.

"I roomed with a defensive lineman one year to find out about his job, then I changed to a running halfback and a defensive halfback and an offensive lineman and an end," he says. "I spent a lot of time finding out about their positions and their psychology."

One of his roommates was Tom Miller, an end for the Eagles who is now the publicity man for the Green Bay Packers.

"If I went out for a beer, Allie would lecture me," Miller says now. "He told me that the most important thing in the world was playing good football and I couldn't be good if I didn't train. And he spent all the time we were together asking me questions. I don't think he ever had a thought that wasn't about football."

Allie became very close to Greasy Neale, and it was on Neale's advice that he quit as an active player.

"Greasy knew how I felt," he said. "He knew I wanted to coach. He told me he would let me know when to make my move, and he did after my fifth year. I think I might have taken over as No. 1 quarterback eventually, but a coaching job came up in a minor pro league and Greasy advised me to take it. I took the job and we won the championship and I sat back waiting for the coaching offers to come in, but none did."

With the help of Lou Little, Allie wound up with the Giants, installing the T formation for Steve Owen. When Owen was fired and Jim Lee Howell took over, Allie went to Canada to coach the Winnipeg team.

"I learned a very valuable lesson in Canada." he says now. "At the end of each year, I evaluate my experiences and try to discover what I have gained. I don't think about my successes. I go over my failures. After my first year in Canada I discovered that my biggest problem had been in coaching the Canadian players. I found that I had to learn to gear down to the slowest mind on the team, not up to the quickest. On the Canadian teams, you had American players thoroughly familiar with American football and Canadians who were not and who had to be taught slowly. It is a lesson that is still very useful."

After three years in Canada in which his team reached the playoff three times, Sherman returned to the Giants staff as a scout, then took charge of the entire offense. When Howell retired in 1960, Allie got the top job, although he was Owner Wellington Mara's second choice.

"I wanted the head job," he said. "I knew I was ready. Wellington called me in and said that he had promised Vince Lombardi the job if he were free to take it. If he couldn't take it, I was the only other man they would consider."

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