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A Look Inside The Redskins Archives: George Allen Chats With Richard Nixon

Posted by Jake Kring-Schreifels on February 5, 2015 – 1:49 pm

George Allen-Nixon

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Over the coming weeks, The Redskins Blog will continue to provide you with a different look at the franchise’s past.

Unlike Throwback Thursday where we’ve looked at important moments on the gridiron against an upcoming opponent, this series will examine some of the lighter moments as we go through all of the photos stored at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Nowadays, politicians are cornered into speaking correctly. Especially when it comes to sports.

President Richard Nixon, a passionate Redskins fan, didn’t seem to care about clipping his team pride while in office, seen most clearly in the photo above taken right before Thanksgiving in 1971. He and Redskins head coach George Allen became close-knit partners on the football field.

Here’s a little history:

While many of Nixon’s recordings were used for diplomatic occasions, he also used some to talk football strategy with Allen.

Check out this conversation between the pair on Oct. 22, 1972, discussing the Redskins’ victory over the Cowboys after they trailed by 13 points in the second half. They talk everything from roster moves to needing special cable antennas to watch the game.

“Our team has so much togetherness. I know that sounds corny, but we’ve got kind of a family,” Allen tells Nixon. “Everybody is happy for the other guy’s success. The fans today were fantastic. You know the ground down there was trembling. You could really here the vibration.

“We beat the World Champs and we came from behind twice. It was like New Year’s Eve in the dressing room after the game.”

What might be more infamous were Nixon’s attempts to funnel plays into Allen’s ear.

In the first round of the playoffs, later that season, the Redskins ended up losing to the 49ers, 24-20, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

As legend has it, Nixon suggested to Allen that the Redskins use a double reverse to Roy Jefferson for some trickery. Instead, the second-quarter surprise turned into a 13-yard loss and a subsequent field goal was blocked.

“A touchdown might have won it,” quarterback Billy Kilmer told Syracuse.com years later. “When it came in, (we) thought, ‘Damn, they really called it.'”

Kilmer knew about Nixon’s role in the play. In a private session during the week, Allen handed a phone call from Nixon over to Kilmer. The President suggested the 49ers would be fooled by the play, even though Kilmer said later that it never existed in the playbook.

Here’s more from the article:

Twenty-three years later, [special-teams coach Marv Levy] says Allen gave that play to Nixon and then asked him to suggest it, both for strategic reasons and as a gesture of their friendship. If it worked, Nixon would come off smelling like roses. So it was presented to the team, Levy said, as a presidential request.

“(George) wanted the president to look very sage,” recalls Levy,  “Afterward, I remember chuckling among ourselves about it,” Levy said. “George gave the play to the president, then it didn’t work.”

Regardless of the unfortunate outcome, we’ll probably never see a President and coach have this kind of unique football relationship again.

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