A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com. Look for his next blog on April 5.
Last week’s blockbuster trade of draft picks by the Washington Redskins
, which was officially finalized yesterday, was reminiscent of the team’s dealings in the 1970s. It appears that current team GM Bruce Allen shared his Hall of Fame father’s ideals of trading away draft picks to get what he thought was best for the team. Bruce’s Redskins will get the No. 2 overall pick and presumably their quarterback of the future in Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
Bruce’s father George Allen (photo below)
lived by the motto of “the future is now” during his tenure with the Redskins. George arrived in Washington in 1971 and immediately sent shockwaves. First he sent a mid-round pick to New Orleans to get quarterback Billy Kilmer to bolster a position that already included future Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen
. Then, days later he engaged in a blockbuster trade with his former team, the Los Angeles Rams. Washington dealt linebacker Marlin McKeever and seven draft picks to the Rams in exchange for veteran linebackers Maxie Baughan, Jack Pardee and Myron Pottios plus defensive tackle Diron Talbert, guard John Wilburer, running back Jeff Jordan, and a fifth-round pick.
Allen joked that he had hoped the trade would meet the approval of President Richard Nixon, an ardent Redskins fan, who had engaged in a discussion with Allen during a dinner that week. Allen had nothing to worry about as the President sent a telegram the next day calling it a “great trade.”
That deal was just the start. Interestingly, the Redskins went the entire 1970s, the majority of which was under Allen’s guidance (through ‘77) without ever using their first-round pick. The Redskins not only traded away every first-round pick they owned during the 1970s decade but never drafted higher than the fourth round from 1971 through the end of the ‘70s.
And, while Washington ridded themselves of draft picks George Allen did so not to get higher picks but veteran players. The philosophy landed established players like the group listed above and others such as Verlon Biggs, Coy Bacon, Duane Thomas, and Lemar Parish onto the Redskins roster. Meanwhile, the number one picks that were dealt away by Washington produced, for the most part, average players such as defensive backs Bruce Taylor (49ers), linebacker Larry Gordon (Dolphins) and running back Charles Alexander (Bengals). The most marquee player from the crop of draft picks was six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Isiah Robertson (photo below) who the Los Angeles Rams landed with the No. 1 pick obtained in the 15-player deal mentioned above.
In 1980, the Redskins opted to hang on to their first pick and used it on a wide receiver out of Syracuse by the name of Art Monk
. Of course, as you know he went on to be the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions and was enshrined in Canton.
Looking back, George Allen's philosophy produced a consistently winning team and quickly earned the franchise its first Super Bowl berth. Time will only tell how last week’s trade will work out.