Bruce Allen recalls an instance when his dad coached the Washington Redskins that demonstrates football’s impact on Our Town~
“. . .the one thing my dad was real proud of, and Mayor Washington was proud of, when we beat Dallas on that New Year’s Eve game, in the NFC Championship game, it was the only day, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, that had not one crime registered in Washington D.C., not one crime.”
Bruce Allen, President, Washington Redskins and Andy Ockershausen, host of Our TownAndy Ockershausen: Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town. And we’re a special broadcast today and a special opportunity for me to talk to the people that are important in our life. Particularly with the most sterling franchise in national football, the Washington Redskins. The president of the Washington Redskins, Bruce Allen. And Bruce, I go back so far with you, but fortunately, it was your life, not mine. Because I was there when you started more or less. But, the Redskins are important to Our Town, obviously. It’s the most important franchise in the world to me. But you brought so much back to Our Town and for that we’re so grateful.
Bruce Allen: Well, Andy, thank you. I don’t think the Allen family can thank Washington enough for the thrills that we’ve had growing up, and the Redskins have benefited from the greatest fan base in this nation.
Andy Ockershausen: And the greatest management now that you’re back. We were so impressed that you came back and got a hold of this franchise and the situation, and you rejoined the broadcast to WMAL, which is my heart and soul. But that was so great for everybody, Bruce. People can now hear their favorite team.
Bruce Allen: Well, a radio program ought to have an audience, right? It really felt like coming home. I’ve heard the advertisements, but WMAL is part of our great history and we’re proud to be back.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, boy. Well, I don’t wanna talk football. I wanna talk … Your family was so special to the community. Your mom, and I knew your grandmother and grandfather and sat with them at some football games. That was special because I don’t think they ever really understood what was going on, but they were delightful.
Bruce Allen: No, every-
Andy Ockershausen: Your grandfather was in the wine business.
Bruce Allen on Family History
Bruce Allen: He was in the wine business and none of us drink wine in the family, which is interesting, but special people. I’ve said it any time I can. I’ve had the great-
Andy Ockershausen: They lived in Africa, in Tunisia, right?
Bruce Allen: Tunisia and Paris.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s right. I know they lived on the mainland also.
Bruce Allen: But I’ve had the greatest role models in our family to live by, and I can’t thank the people enough.
Andy Ockershausen: Very prolific. I know he went through a terrible time during the war. He told us some of the stories and so forth when I heard this from your mom. But Bruce, thinking about your dad who was so … He’s so tied up in life and football, how he ever … What he’d do? He chased your mother all over the world more or less to marry him, right? He went to Tunisia or France or someplace to beg her to get married.
Bruce Allen: Well, it was a cute story. She was visiting friends in America, and my dad was a head coach at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. And why someone from Paris, France on a tour of the United States would visit Sioux City, Iowa, I don’t know, but I’m very happy that that happened and the tour bus went through there. Dad was also in charge of the plays, the drama plays on campus, and she-
Andy Ockershausen: A very small college, right?
Bruce Allen – His Mom and Dad’s love story between Sioux City, Iowa to Tunis, Tunisia
Bruce Allen: Small college. Morningside College, very small college. More like a W&L in this area. But the lights went out at the show and my mom, my future mom, was in the front row with the tour group, and he gave everybody in the front row a flashlight so the play could go on. And he met-
Andy Ockershausen: Creative.
Bruce Allen: Very creative. The play had to go on, and he promised her if she held the flashlight the entire time, he’d take her out for ice cream afterwards, and he fell in love with her that night over ice cream.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, she was somebody special to fall in love with too. A very, very attractive woman, of course, and had a wonderful accent at the times. But that sounds like George going out for ice cream, doesn’t it?
Bruce Allen: He’s always been the same guy.
Andy Ockershausen: He never changed did he? I know that. That’s so great. Well, Bruce, but then they obviously … He pursued her overseas, and he coaxed her into marrying him-
Bruce Allen: He talking to her through letters. He wrote letters to her.
Andy Ockershausen: There was no communications like now.
Bruce Allen: No. He didn’t reach out on Facebook or Instagram, or any of that. He wrote her some letters, and then he said “I’m going to come over, I wanna meet your father.” And he asked her father if he could propose to her, and it was really … That was the day, that one day-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s what people used to do, of course.
Bruce Allen: And he asked her father, and her father said “Well, how you gonna support her?” And he reached in his pocket, and he said “Look at how much money I have.” And my grandfather said he was really impressed because it was $230, and he said “People back then didn’t travel with that much cash in their pockets when they traveled.” And he said “Well, that’s gotta be a wealthy person.” He didn’t know that was everything that Dad had, and he sold his car in order to buy the airplane ticket to go there-
Andy Ockershausen: But that was pursuit, he was pursuing the love of his life.
Bruce Allen: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s such a great story, Bruce. You really responded to it. I know that they were so impressed that he was so persistent … Well, George was persistent his whole life about everything. But then they got married. Didn’t he coach at another small like Eureka College-
George F. Allen – From College Coaching to the Pros
Bruce Allen: No, then from Morningside he went to Whittier College in Los Angeles.
Andy Ockershausen: Whittier, that’s it. That’s Nixon’s school, right? In California.
Bruce Allen: That’s where President Nixon went to school, yes.
Andy Ockershausen: And then they were saddled in pretty much in California, and that was before you came along.
Bruce Allen: That’s before I … Now my oldest brother, George, was born in Whittier.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh he was? In California.
Bruce Allen: When we was coaching at Whittier college.
Andy Ockershausen: Then he went to the Bears from Whittier? He was an assistant?
Los Angeles Rams
Bruce Allen: No, he went from Whittier to the Los Angeles Rams and he was a receiver coach. He was there for a year and then they fired the coaching staff and he got fired with them. He was really about a year out of football and he worked at a car wash and various jobs in order to support the family.
Andy Ockershausen: Well at that family, George, you were the last, of course. No, your sister was, right?
Bruce Allen: Right. No, well, at that time, George was born, Greg was born, my other older brother-
Andy Ockershausen: Both in California.
Bruce Allen: And I was born.
Andy Ockershausen: In California?
Bruce Allen: Yeah, I was born in Pasadena.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
The Chicago Bears and Coach Halas
Bruce Allen: But all three of us were born, so he was supporting the family and then he went to meet Coach Halas of the Bears, and he got hired by the Bears in 1958.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s obviously a great difference between where you lived in California going to Chicago, cold weather, climate, different psyche, right? The Bears. THE Bears.
Bruce Allen: THE Bears, but as a two-year-old, I really didn’t know about much of that.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, George talks about … He remembers it.
Bruce Allen: Yeah. I first remember football with the Bear years and Coach Halas … I thought Coach Halas was the only person in America you would call “Coach” because when the players were around my dad, they would call him “George”, and when they talked about the other assistant coaches, they were all by the first name, but no one referred to Coach Halas other than “Coach”, and I actually thought that was his first name and there was only one coach in America and that was Coach Halas.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, at the time, I guess it was Halas and Lambeau that were the epitome of the league and with the Maras in New York, right? The world was smaller then, Bruce.
Bruce Allen: Yeah. I really … I don’t think it’s wrong to say, I think this is Coach Halas’ league. I think the other people were business people who got invested into a league. I respect Curly Lambeau was obviously-
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, Curly, he was football.
Bruce Allen: He was a coach, but it was George Halas’ vision of what a league would be and he was a coach and he was a player.
Andy Ockershausen: A great player incidentally, right?
Bruce Allen: A great player who played in the league, who coached in the league, who owned it, and I still refer to this league as Coach Halas’ league and I think people ought to go back and learn the history of the game in order to appreciate where we are today.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, the scraps that he had to put up with and what they did to keep the league alive was legendary. He had a lot of help from George Preston Marshall in a different way. Marshall was more show biz and Halas was more sports.
Bruce Allen: There was business people who came in to the league who invested and thought of it as a good idea. Maybe a good hobby at the time to be involved in sports, but George Halas always cared about the game of football. He was the best spokesman for the game to the other investors in the league and people like that.
Andy Ockershausen: Highly respected by everybody.
Bruce Allen: He had to. It’s his league. He’d take it back if he didn’t like you.
Andy Ockershausen: But you gave up the beautiful … Were y’all living at … It wasn’t Rolling Hills, not then, right? You weren’t … That was later when you went back there because I visited your mom out there many years later, but that was a transition from, let’s say, the warm weather coast to the Bears to the Midwest, and things happened. You went to grammar school there, obviously.
Bruce Allen: Yeah, outside of Chicago.
Andy Ockershausen: Then, you went back to Los Angeles.
Back to the Los Angeles Rams 1965 but not without a fight from Coach Halas
Bruce Allen: Then, in ’65 we went back to Los Angeles, and that’s when we lived in Palos Verdes, at the home you saw.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, that was when they had the problem with who was it? Dan Reeves was the owner then? And they had a discrepancy, something to do with the contract with Halas and something to do with your dad?
Bruce Allen: Well, coach … Different, once again. Different than today. Coach Halas … The Rams offered my dad to be the head coaching job and my dad, at the time, was the Bears defensive coordinator and director of player personnel.
Andy Ockershausen: And they had just won the championship, correct?
Bruce Allen: They had won the championship and they offered him to be the head coach. The league, and Pete Rozelle at the time said, “Everyone can leave a job to go be a head coach in the league. You can’t go laterally-”
Andy Ockershausen: But you could go up?
Bruce Allen: “But you could go up.” Well, George Halas, once again, it’s his league said, “No. He’s got three more years on his contract. We don’t care if the Rams are paying him five times more money, and I’m gonna enforce my contract to teach the Rams a lesson and the Commissioner.” He was teaching the Commissioner whose league it is. I know it’ll be shocking to you, but a Chicago jury found in favor of Coach Halas. They said-
Andy Ockershausen: What a surprise.
Bruce Allen: They said George Allen had to stay with the Bears as an assistant coach and once Coach Halas proved his point, he allowed my dad to go be the head coach.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, at the time, I know what the Coach was doing it for, what he thought was the right thing, but I guess they were the days when contracts meant something.
Bruce Allen: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: Who knows now what it means, right? The world has changed so much when it comes to that. But, Bruce, what a great thing then. You get this break, you’re going back to sunny southern California. What are you, seven or eight years old now?
Bruce Allen: I was nine then.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s right. Pretty much George was a young adult almost, correct?
Bruce Allen: My brother?
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
Bruce Allen: Yeah. He was 13. Four years older than me.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. Then, Greg was younger than you, right?
Bruce Allen: No, Greg’s two years older.
Andy Ockershausen: He was in the middle?
Bruce Allen: Yes.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, they are great stories and I want to pick up on that and we’re gonna take a break right now. This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Our Town, Andy Ockershausen having a conversation with Bruce Allen. I keep calling him George Allen because his father was such a special man to me and to WMAL. Bruce, going back to California is another world for you, as a young … You weren’t even an adult then, you were a kid. That was for your father, that was an opportunity, it seems to me, the opportunity of a lifetime.
Coach George F. Allen and the Los Angeles Rams – A Winning Team
Bruce Allen: Well, it was a great opportunity for him. I think what he enjoyed, and I’m sure we’re gonna talk about when we came to Washington, is the Rams hadn’t won for a long time; they hadn’t won for over 20 seasons.
Andy Ockershausen: Since they were in Cleveland.
Bruce Allen: He was taking the team that was a misfits. They had talent, they had some misfits, but he knew if he could get them focused on what was important in football, he could prove a point on how you can win in the NFL. Instantly, they won and instantly they became the biggest show in Los Angeles. The Coliseum went from an attendance in the low 30’s to averaging over 85,000 people a game at the Coliseum with great people like my biggest brother Deacon Jones and the Fearsome Foursome and Roman Gabriel, our quarterback, but it became showtime in LA.
Andy Ockershausen: A great team, but great people, and it was made for the times. I hope your guy, McVay gets that same fervor, but I think the world has changed. The town was ready for the Rams in those days. I’m not sure it is now, but that’s another subject. But your mom was a fan, too. That’s what was so interesting. She really was a fan. She would fight with your father. I’d see her in the booth from time-to-time. She just loved watching football, loved the game.
Bruce Allen: Well, my mom was a great cheer leader of our family.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, yeah. Well, she raised your family, correct?
Bruce Allen’s Mom – A big football fan and her influence on family – “she really took it to a new level”
Bruce Allen: A hundred percent, but she … A lot of wives are very supportive of their husband and their work, but she really took it to a new level and it’s why everybody in our family, we lived and died through the success of the team because we knew how important it was to Mom and Dad. But they made us a part of it and because Dad won, it was a terrific life.
Andy Ockershausen: But he always was a winner. Now, how did … Where was Jack Kent Cooke when he came to Washington? Was Cooke involved, or was that Ed Williams, or how did that work?
Bruce Allen: Well, Jack Cooke owned the Lakers and the Kings at the time, and had just built the LA Forum during his term there. We would go to some games in the off season and Dad got to meet Jack and liked him because he also had a passion for winning, that’s he liked about it. He had turned around the Lakers at the same time in Los Angeles into being a great team when he got Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor all together, I mean, it was-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s not a bad list.
Bruce Allen: That’s a good start. But when my dad got fired, he didn’t get along with the owner of the Rams. The owner of the Rams-
Andy Ockershausen: Dan Reeves?
Contentious Relationship – Coach Allen and LA Rams Owner Dan Reeves
Bruce Allen: Yes. He said this quote, he fired my dad on Christmas of ’68 and he said, “I’d rather have fun and lose with someone else than win with George Allen,” and he fired him. The players walked out and said they weren’t gonna play and back then, players really could make as much money in the business world as they could playing football; the salaries were in the low 20’s, and they could make that-
Andy Ockershausen: Doing other things in life.
Bruce Allen: Regular things. It forced him to rehire Dad in two weeks, but during that window when he was fired, Dad had offers from about 17 teams to come coach, whether it was the NFL or the AFL. He met Jack Cooke and he said, “If you want to go to Washington, I’ll make you-” because Jack had a minority interest in the team at the time, he goes, “We’ll make you the head coach in Washington if you want to go,” but Dad kept his … When the players walked out for him, he felt he owed them an obligation. He refused to sign a new contract. Not that Dan Reeves was gonna give him a new contract-
Andy Ockershausen: Well, I see what you mean. He made a commitment.
Bruce Allen: Yep. “I’ll play out my contract here.” Then, when he was fired again in 1970, and I might add that they had winning seasons every year for the first time in their franchise history five consecutive winning seasons. That’s when Jack reached out to him and said, “Come to Washington.”
Andy Ockershausen: That was the beginning of the Ramskins that we all lived through. You were growing up then and you were still in grammar school, obviously, before you went to Langley, correct?
George F. Allen and the Washington Redskins
Bruce Allen: Well, I … No. When we moved here I was at Langley. It was my sophomore year of high school. I had gone one year-
Andy Ockershausen: That was one of the jewel high schools in northern Virginia. You hit it at a beautiful time.
Bruce Allen: What do you mean “was”? My kids also went to Langley, so it still ought to be a jewel.
Andy Ockershausen: Right? What a great school, though. But a great opportunity for you and your dad of course, then, is deeply involved in the community and with his commitment to Our Town, he did the Summer Jobs for Youth program, I worked with him on that with Mayor Marion Barry. I mean, the town was just alive with George Allen and the Allen family of course. I guess George was in college then, you were in high school, and Greg, and your sister was born by then. She was born in Chicago?
Bruce Allen: Yeah, she was born when we were with the Bears.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s what I thought. She’s the baby of the family. Yeah.
Bruce Allen: She’s the baby.
Andy Ockershausen: The Allen family comes in and takes over our community. Never did we believe that we were gonna have the president of the Redskins, the governor, and I refer to him … He was a congressman, he was a senator, and he was a governor. I said, “George, which is the most important?” He said, “Civilian.” He had a wonderful run, but that’s what it was, right?
Bruce Allen: Yes.
Andy Ockershausen: George was a great governor and just a super guy. He was so involved as you are, but I know your dad got involved with so many things in Our Town and it made a huge difference. We had not seen that before.
Bruce Allen: It’s really, the same thing he did here in Washington happened in Los Angeles. We had had the sobriety in Los Angeles in Watts. Dad took us down, took the kids down, into Watts and he wanted to stop it because it was a distraction to the football season and Major Yorty at the time says, “George, you can’t just walk down there,” and he says, “Well, give me a few policemen and some community leaders and let me talk to the people. We can’t have this. It’s a distraction to our players and our community.” He believes that our work on the field, and it’s still true today-
Andy Ockershausen: No question.
Legendary Washington Redskins Coach George Allen believed that the work on the football field affects the entire community.
Bruce Allen: Affects an entire community. When the Redskins win, people feel better on Monday morning, and when we beat Dallas, we feel better all the way through Thursday morning, and it is a role model for the community, but it is a part of the fabric of a community. Fortunately, growing up in here, I got to see it and it’s a living, breathing, organ of a community.
Andy Ockershausen: Bruce, I lived through it with your dad and the players and all the good things and my wife, Janice, will tell you, we felt it at our broadcast company, people had a different attitude on Monday when the Redskins won on Sunday. It was incredible. It was almost something I could get ahold of. That lasted … It did, of course. Everybody felt so good, and we would say, “This is so important. This is bigger than football. This is a community coming together, loving the Redskins.”
Bruce Allen: Andy, I’ve seen surveys that we have the most disagreeable city in the country and we get to see it every day. Republicans don’t agree with Democrats and Independents don’t agree with Republicans or Democrats, and when you come to one of our games, that’s left outside. It’s actually left outside of our tailgates, so it’s back on the Beltway. You leave that on the Beltway, you come in, and we all root for the same thing and care about the same outcome. That’s what’s special.
Andy Ockershausen: Bruce, you would know it in Our Town because there’d be nobody on the street, they were all glued to TV or the radio. Automobile radio was a great thing for WMAL because the signal was so great and the automobile listening was incredible, it was like 90 percent had the Redskins on. We do surveys and stop people and ask them on a Sunday, and that just started with George. I know that because we lived through it. I started with the Redskins, we did the broadcasting back in the ’50s with Harry Wismer, of all people, and Jim Gibbons, and all the thing, but we saw it so different when George got here.
Bruce Allen: I think, and you’ll probably remember this, the one thing my dad was real proud of, and Mayor Washington was proud of, when we beat Dallas on that New Year’s Eve game, in the NFC Championship game, it was the only day, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, that had not one crime registered in Washington D.C., not one crime. The mayor would always talk about that when he would go out about how important the Redskins were and it showed you the passion of the Nation’s Capital for our team.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s so incredible. You felt it in the air, it was so great, and it still is, Bruce. I mean, I don’t want to say that’s the only time. I think the Redskins are still back to where they were in people’s minds, and that’s a big thing. This is Our Town. We’re talking about Our Town. We’re gonna take a break now and then we’re gonna end up with Bruce. We haven’t talked much about you, you realize that of course.
Bruce Allen: That’s all right.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s about the family. I love the family. This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Our Town. Andy Ockershausen talking to Bruce Allen, not George Allen. I love George Allen and I love Bruce, his mother, and the family. They were so great, but Bruce is adopted back into Our Town now, after all those miserable years he spent in Oakland and Tampa Bay and his career is incredible. But the Redskins have been so much a part of our community and to see you getting deeply involved in the community, you brought the alumni back, which I thought was sensational. Sensational. The Friends of the National War Memorial, the War Memorial, Women of Washington, Salute the Military, monthly community activity. Bruce, you’ve done it. I mean, this is so important to be out front of this community like your dad was.
Bruce Allen: Well, Andy, we’ve benefited. Everybody in the game today, everybody in society today has benefited from those who came before us, whether it’s the players and coaches and the fans from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or it’s the military that provided us the freedoms to play this game. That’s what we believe in here with the Redskins. Is, “How do we give back to those organizations that have helped us to enjoy the benefits that we do today?” Everybody has benefited from the greatness that came before us and we just try and say, “Thank you,” all the time.
Andy Ockershausen: There’s another Summer Jobs program that I think that the city runs, but I don’t know how it works, but nothing compared to the euphoria of Our Town when George got involved with that. I was with the Board of Trade, we were all helping him every way we could, and the Mayor, and it made a difference. I mean, it really made a difference in Our Town those summers.
Our Town’s legendary Mayor Washington successfully recruits Coach Allen for the Summer Jobs program
Bruce Allen: Well, you know what? The business community embraced that because he made up a chart showing that … When he took the job, Mayor Washington, once again said, “George, I need your help,” and he said, “Well, I’m kinda busy,” and he goes, “What is it?” And he goes, “We’re in last place in the country in summer jobs for youth,” and he goes, “Well, we can’t be in last place.” I think he made it up just to get my dad to fall for it, and he did. Dad made up all those charts and I know you remember, where we would climb the charts. He put … Dallas, ironically, was number three or four in the country.
Andy Ockershausen: He didn’t like that.
Coach Allen brings success to Summer Jobs program in Our Town
Bruce Allen: No, he didn’t like that and that’s what would motivate everybody in order to make sure that we got to the top, and he called people in Giant Food, he’d call every one of the friends and said, “We need a thousand more jobs. We need it,” and we got there, and we were number one for the seven years that he was-
Andy Ockershausen: It wasn’t just an honor, he worked at it. I know that for a fact. He would pester us all the time, “We need more air time. We need more promos.” But that was the Allen family, and of course your whole family’s involved in that. In the meantime, you’re at Langley, you’re graduating from Langley, you have become an Easterner whether you like it or not, and then you went to school in Richmond, a very fine school. They wouldn’t take you at UVA? Did George finish at UVA?
Coach Allen’s influence on his children’s careers
Bruce Allen: Yeah, George was in law school when I went to college.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, and then … Richmond has a great law school, too, right?
Bruce Allen: Yeah. Dad really only wanted one lawyer in the family and he really told us when we were young where we’re gonna go, at least for my brothers.
Andy Ockershausen: Greg, medical.
Bruce Allen: Yeah. George was so smart. I don’t know if George had a B in college or intermediate school. I had a B and I’d celebrate it, but he … Then, Greg, he thought Greg would be a doctor or a vet and he’s a shrink in LA.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, I knew that. In Los Angeles, right?
Bruce Allen: I was waiting for him. I said, “All right. What’s mine?” He goes, you better stick to sports in some way. Maybe because I got that one B I was so proud of.
Andy Ockershausen: Jennifer was a writer, right?
Bruce Allen: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: A prolific writer.
Bruce Allen: Yeah, and he said she was gonna be a writer or a teacher.
Andy Ockershausen: She did some broadcast work from time-to-time. The family’s all done well out of sports, correct?
Bruce Allen: Correct.
Andy Ockershausen: Except you. You just jumped right back in there. I thought George was such a great governor and it’s terrible what happened to our state. You know I live in the city, I lived in Virginia for years. But you brought the spirit back because even though you’re here, we consider this Our Town, we consider Annapolis Our Town, and Vienna, Virginia as Our Town.
Bruce Allen: It’s all Redskin country.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s all Redskins country. It all important to us. But to go back to California, as your dad did to, of all places, Long Beach State, and he turned them into a winner.
Bruce Allen: That was obviously his last year of life and coaching, but it couldn’t have been written. If you wrote a Disney script, it would have had what happened. They started 0 and 3-
Andy Ockershausen: He went right back to his house, too, didn’t he?
Bruce Allen: Yes.
Andy Ockershausen: Your mother kept the house for him. I know that.
Bruce Allen: Yeah, but he started 0 and 3, they had him play Clemson at the beginning. He decided, “I’m gonna sleep at the school. I’m gonna go to class with these kids, and I’m gonna tell them how important winning is.” He brought Dick Butkus in to speak to the team, and they ended up with a 6 and 5 record and was their first winning season in a decade or so. It was a great experience, and I still get to talk to a lot of his players who’ve used that to go on to have good lives.
Andy Ockershausen: Bruce was, for reasons unexplainable, I was involved in the NAB, National Association of Broadcasters, we were having a meeting in Los Angeles when your dad died. Somebody called me and said, “We’re having a ceremony here at this church,” or something, down in the hills. I was able to drive down and attend that ceremony and I’ll never forget it. It was so special. I don’t know who the man was that sang it, but “The Wind Beneath Our Wings,” but that was such an inspiring night to me. The actor, correct?
Bruce Allen: Yes. Dabney Coleman.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. Dabney Coleman.
A Tribute to Coach George F. Allen
Bruce Allen: It was a tribute to him. He had tremendous friends, but it was the players and coaches that were part of our family and remain that way today that-
Andy Ockershausen: So many of them came to the ceremony from Texas and Arkansas and Washington and Florida. They were in Los Angeles just for your dad.
Bruce Allen: That made my mom feel great, to know that Dad meant that much to them.
Andy Ockershausen: It was so great. I felt great being a part of it, and it was almost like it wasn’t planned that way, but thank the Lord I was in Los Angeles. Honestly, I would not have traveled 2,500 miles, but being there, being a part of it was so great, to be with Kilmer and all the old gang showed up and there was party time, I guess, for the whole weekend. But that’s special because of George Allen.
Bruce Allen: Well, thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: Now that you’ve gotten a hold of this thing, it seems to me that you’re on the right track. Obviously, you know what you’re doing, Bruce. You had great experience, you worked for a lot of people, and that’s good, right?
Bruce Allen: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: You worked for Al Davis for a while.
Bruce Allen on Coach Al Davis
Bruce Allen: After Coach Halas as the poster boy for the NFL, I think Al Davis falls in right below that because he was a dynamic leader. He was also a coach, a Coach of the Year once, in the NFL.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, I know that.
Bruce Allen: Saw the game through the eyes of a coach and working with him was a fantastic experience and learning experience.
Andy Ockershausen: A Brooklyn boy, too, right?
Bruce Allen: A Brooklyn boy, who somehow got a southern accent. Brooklyn.
Andy Ockershausen: He’s a good actor. Cosell would refer to him all the time as the “kid from Brooklyn”, but you learned at that place of course. Then, you went to Florida. Did you go California to Florida? That’s a lateral move, right?
Bruce Allen: Yeah. I’m fortunate. Every place I’ve lived, I’ve loved. In the USFL I lived back in Chicago, I lived in Arizona, I’ve never-
Andy Ockershausen: What was the Arizona team called?
Bruce Allen: The Arizona Wranglers.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, the Chicago team. We had a team here, if you remember, and your father came to our first game. He was coaching Chicago. What was the name? Fire?
Bruce Allen: Chicago Blitz.
Andy Ockershausen: The Blitz.
Bruce Allen: And we beat your Washington Federals on opening day.
Andy Ockershausen: We had like 47,000 people there. Did you know that?
Bruce Allen: At RFK. Absolutely. We beat you 23-7.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, George had all the players then, and he had them ready. But that was the beginning of football for me for a lot of reasons. We did their broadcast and we found out nobody was listening. That’s not true with the Redskins. But, Bruce, this has been so much pleasure for me to relive these days with you and thinking about Dabney Coleman in that ceremony, I’ll never forget it.
Bruce Allen: Well, thank you so much and going down memory lane is always fun.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, this is more important. The Redskins are going to win because you’re going to see to that. But more importantly now, the community wins. Thank you for coming back to Our Town, putting us back on the map in a lot of ways, and my best to the Allen family and all of … I saw them at the playoff game. I saw your sister there and I saw Greg, the doctor. It’s great to have the whole family back.
Bruce Allen: It is. Anytime I can get the shrink out here, I need him the most.
Andy Ockershausen: And thank you for what you did for WMAL. We’re so happy that you’re back. This is Andy Ockershausen and is Our Town.
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