Ol' Ricky's Redskins Tales - George Allen & Jhoon Rhee
George Allen was a character in so many ways. He was so focused on football that the team hired a chauffeur after too many accidents. His house was burgundy and gold. He interviewed people while using the restroom. Everything was about winning.
Allen liked to motivate players using unusual tactics. President Richard Nixon once came to Redskins Park for practice and even offered a play that Allen used for a massive loss. Looking back, you could see that coming.
Allen was studying karate with local expert Jhoon Rhee. Anyone living in Washington in the 1970s knows Rhee’s TV commercials that are still on YouTube. “If you take Jhoon Rhee self-defense then you too can say, nobody bothers me . . . Call USA-1000. Jhoon Rhee means might for right.” His young kid would wink at you and say, “Nobody bothers me, either.”
One day, Allen wanted to break boards in the locker room to motivate players. Allen once offered to fight Tom Landry at midfield for a win (I have a feeling Landry would have beaten Allen in 30 seconds. Landry was a bomber pilot in World War II and survived a crash landing in Belgium.)
Allen was the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Ronald Reagan so he took fitness seriously. Used to jog around the track after practice for 45 minutes to make reporters wait for him longer. Probably did it with a smile.
Anyway, Allen and Rhee set up two boards and the locker room was cheering. Allen tried to karate chop them. Nothing. Some say Allen broke his hand, but he hit them several more times before finally breaking through.
After all, Allen never had a Plan B. He planned for success no matter the cost.
Ol’ Ricky returns on Monday with more tales. Meanwhile, many of these stories are in my book and more will be told on my coming “Pigskins and Pizza” tours.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.