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Today's Tidbit... George Allen, Weighted Footballs, and Special Teams
George Allen was a highly-detailed coach, as evidenced by several books he wrote, including his 1960 Complete Book of Winning Football Drills. It includes more than 500 drills covering everything imaginable. (This will not be the last Tidbit mentioning one of his drills.)
Allen played end at Albion College and Marquette, where he transferred as part of the Navy's V-12 during WWII. After graduation, he coached Morningside (IA) for three years and Whittier for six years and published the Encyclopedia of Football Drills while coaching the Poets. He joined Sid Gillman's Rams staff in 1957 and then spent the 1958 through 1965 seasons as a Chicago Bears assistant, so he published Complete Book of Winning Football Drills during his time in Chicago.
Besides being an author, Allen was an inventor and the creator of the game's first weighted footballs. Developed with Voit, the Power Arm weighed 19 ounces (versus the standard 15.5) and was targeted for quarterbacks, while the 23-ounce Power Wrist was for long snappers.
Author and inventor became one in 1960 when he discussed the Power Arm in Complete Book of Winning Football Drills, describing several drills to strengthen the arms of quarterbacks and snappers and receivers' grips.
Weighted footballs took flight from the beginning and were used by the Rams and Bears and by college coaches Red Sanders, Bear Bryant, Jack Curtice, Bowden Wyatt, and Bobby Dodd. Bart Starr of the Packers trained with one, and various NFL and college quarterbacks used weighted footballs into the mid-1980s. After that, their use seems to have transitioned to running backs and receivers who use them from a ball security perspective.
The Power Arm illustrates George Allen's attention to detail and early focus on special teams. Allen, after all, hired Dick Vermeil as the NFL's first dedicated special teams coach. He also brought backup offensive lineman and long snapper George Burnham with him from the Bears to the Rams and then to the Redskins, effectively making Burnham the NFL's first dedicated long snapper. (Burnham practiced with the O line and saw occasional duty but spent his time in Washington almost solely as a snapper.)
So, Allen had tremendous success as a coach, and his attention to the little things was among the reasons for that success.
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