The greatness of Lombardi, Allen through the eyes of Larry Brown

Vince Lombardi vs. George Allen: How were they different and how were they alike? We asked someone who played for both, former Washington running back Larry Brown.

Larry Brown photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins
Larry Brown photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins

(Larry Brown photos courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Talk of Fame Network

Former running back Larry Brown not only played football the right way for the Washington Redskins. He played it for two Hall-of-Fame coaches, Vince Lombardi and George Allen.

Brown was Lombardi’s best draft pick in Washington, an eighth-rounder out of Kansas State, and one of Allen’s best players, period – so good that he won a league rushing title, set franchise rushing records, was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and league MVP. What's more, no member of the Washington Redskins has worn Browns’ number 43 jersey since his retirement following the 1976 season.

So who better to contrast Lombardi and Allen than one of Washington’s best players – a guy who in 2002 was named to the honor roll of the Redskins’ 70 Greatest Players.

“Vince Lombardi had the incredible ability to motivate his players to achieve excellence on and off the field,” said Brown. “He was passionate about his family, sports – particularly football – and religion, and not necessarily in that order. He conducted punishing training camps and demanded complete dedication and effort from his players. He treated us like men until we proved that we needed to be treated differently. His game plan was based on simplicity, execution and perfection. And, finally, his management style included fear and intimidation at the highest level.”

lombardi

(Vince Lombardi photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers)

Lombardi, who won five league championships in seven years with the Green Bay Packers, took over as Washington’s head coach and general manager in 1969 and led the Redskins to a 7-5-1 finish, their first winning season in 14 years. He died a year later, with Bill Austin taking his place as interim head coach.

Allen succeeded Austin in 1971 and was named AP Coach of the Year after guiding the Redskins to a 9-4-1 finish. A year later he had them in the Super Bowl.

“George Allen was extremely fanatical about the details of the game,” said Brown, “which made him one of the hardest working coaches in the league at that time. He worked extremely long hours, though we suffered in practice as a result of it. But I am very proud to say we were one of the best prepared teams in the league on game day.

“His game plan was a little more complex because he wanted to communicate to everyone their assignments on each play and not leaving much for memory. His management style was based on incentive, recognition and a player who played a significant role in our victory. And he was the first coach to recognize the importance of special teams as a component of the game.

“Finally, George Allen was not confrontational. In fact, in some cases he appeared to be timid. But if you crossed him, more than likely you would read in the newspapers that you were traded without any advance notice.”

Brown was never traded, and he has never been a Hall-of-Fame finalist – though his credentials are Hall-of-Fame worthy.

“Does it surprise you that your name has never been discussed?” he was asked.

“Yes, it does,” Brown said. “However I have no control or voice in that process. So I have let my contribution to the game speak for itself.”

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