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HOME TO ROOST
George Allen's approach to his personnel needs has always been, "The future is now." He has ignored the college draft in favor of acquiring older, experienced players, and traded away future draft choices with abandon to get them. The Redskins have not had a first-round pick since they selected Jim (Yazoo) Smith of Oregon in 1967. They have no choices left in the first three rounds for 1977 and 1978, and for the following two years, they have only three altogether. His critics say Allen has mortgaged the Redskins' future. Allen has always responded by pointing to success.
But starting now, Allen is going to have to deal with a future of his own making. It all has to do with the modified version of the Rozelle Rule that is part of the new NFL contract. To review, the original rule provided that when a club signed a free agent—one who had played out his option—it had to compensate his former club. If the teams could not agree upon the compensation, Pete Rozelle imposed one.
The modification of the rule in the new contract was designed to eliminate Rozelle's role. From now on, compensation is to be in the form of predetermined choices in the current year's draft. If a team offers a free agent an annual salary of $50,000 to $65,000, it must compensate his former team with a third-round draft choice; $65,000 to $75,000, with a second; $75,000 to $125,000, a first; $125,000 to $200,000, a first and a second; and more than $200,000, a first in two consecutive years.
Allen says, "Rules and changes don't affect success. The winners will still win and the losers will still lose. The new agreement is not going to change my philosophy or my program one bit."
Perhaps. But in order to deal for his favorite kind of player, a free agent like Charles Young, Harold Jackson, Ron Jaworski or Brad Van Pelt, Allen must have draft choices in hand—first-round draft choices, not fourth, 10th, 11th and 12th, which are all he has right now for the 1977 draft in May. George Allen may have dealt himself right out of the game.
A SPECIAL GENIUS
THE LATEST SHOW
Seven years ago Wilfrid Sheed reviewed for SI a baseball documentary called The Glory of Their Times. He called it "one of the best sports documentaries yet compiled," but hardly anybody except a few critics like Sheed ever got to see it. The film, inspired by Lawrence S. Ritter's 1966 book of the same name and produced by Bud Greenspan, who did the recent 10-part series on the Olympics, was intended for television. It is an hour-long compilation of rare motion-picture footage, still photographs and newspaper headlines accompanied by recorded recollections of old-time players like Fred Snodgrass and Rube Marquard and public figures like William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson. As narrator Alexander Scourby says at the start, "It is the story of what it was like and how it felt to be a baseball player at the turn of the century."
The Glory of Their Times is a low-keyed, tasteful and edifying evocation of a special period of American history and the TV networks would have nothing to do with it—not without the addition of 1) Joe Garagiola, 2) Take Me Out to the Ball Game and 3) Babe Ruth's 714th home run for the 714th time. Said Greenspan in 1969, "I knew I was in trouble when they said they wished it was in color."