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Jill Lieber
October 08, 1984
"I got too wrapped up with winning."
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October 08, 1984

Even For George Allen There Comes A Time To Smell The Flowers

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"I got too wrapped up with winning."

A leftover Dick Vermeil quote? Ara Parseghian? Try George Allen, who last week resigned as head coach of the USFL's Arizona Wranglers. He'll remain with the franchise as part owner and chairman of the board.

Allen says he wants to spend more time developing the team and working as chairman of the President's Council on Fitness and Sports. Around Arizona the word is that Allen got fed up with fighting with majority owner Ted Diethrich over money. After reportedly losing $14 million on the team in two years, Diethrich proposed a budget of $7 million for 1985. Allen wanted $9 million.

However, in a telephone interview shortly before his retirement announcement, the 66-year-old Allen sounded like a man who, after 14 years in pro football, had simply had enough. "If someone offered me $20 million to go through again what I did last year with the Wranglers, I'd say, "Thanks, but no thanks,' " Allen said. "I came to work at 6 a.m. and didn't go home until after midnight. Because of the heat, we practiced at night. When dust storms knocked out the lights, players drove their cars to the edge of the field and turned on their headlights. I felt I had to control everything. I was always tired. I existed on one meal a day—breakfast, which was a bowl of oatmeal with raisins. I lost 18 pounds.

"The worst part was leaving my wife, Etty, home in California. The heat would have been too hard on her. We were separated for six months. I really missed her. I often wondered if it was all worth it.

"Right now I'm sitting here in Palos Verdes Estates, looking out at my citrus trees. I like having time to do that. Etty and I leave at the end of the month for Europe. We'll be gone at least three weeks. That's something I haven't done enough of. I might have taken two or three days off, but I never relaxed. It's time I learned to do that, before it's too late."