A reader sent me this several years ago. He thought it was hilarious — and so do I. It’s a 1972 column written by Bill Brill, sports editor of The Roanoke Times, about the challenges faced by an old-school football coach at Langley High in affluent McLean, Va. The funniest stuff is about two of Redskins coach George Allen’s sons, Bruce (the team’s current president and general manager) and Greg, both of whom played for Langley.
They don’t write columns like this anymore. It’s amazing they wrote them even then. The headline says it all:
Rich Kids’ Coach
Langley’s ‘Bear Bryant’ vs. the Spoiled Brats
“Mrs. Allen called recently and wanted to know when practice started. I told her Aug. 14. Then she wanted to know when Bruce should be there. I told her Aug. 14.”
— Langley coach Red Stickney
Times change rapidly in football, whether college or high school.
Ravis (Red) Stickney is a throwback to the old days, although he played fullback and linebacker for Bear Bryant at Alabama in 1960.
Red Stickney just looks like a football coach. The broad shoulders, the wide head, the short hair.
He even looks like a Bear Bryant type. The old Bear Bryant type. When Red played for the Bear, football was the reason for being in college. Classes were just something that got in the way of most athletes.
Stickney coaches high school football at Langley in Fairfax County. For an old country boy with Bear Bryant tendencies, it has been a revelation.
Langley is a rich man’s school. “Even our blacks are rich,” says Stickney. “The new cars in the school parking lot belong to the kids. The old cars belong to the coaches.”
One of Stickney’s players is Jim Rehnquist. His father is the Supreme Court jurist. There also is a senator’s son and a couple of kids named Allen. Their father coaches the Redskins.
The Allen boys are an enigma. “They are good kids,” says Red, “but they sure are spoiled.”
Whatever the Allen boys want, the Allen boys get. “Greg used to show up for practice in that new Grand Prix his father gave him.”
The Allens do not always make it to practice, or to school, for that matter.
“Mrs. Allen called recently and wanted to know when practice started. I told her Aug. 14. Then she wanted to know when Bruce should be there. I told her Aug. 14.
“So she says that’s the only time the family can take a vacation, and they wanted Bruce to go with them for a couple of weeks. I told her, ‘Mrs. Allen, Bruce plays quarterback. That’s a pretty important position. He’ll have to be there Aug. 14.’
“I even offered to let Bruce live with me those two weeks.”
Bruce, the youngest of the Allen boys, is the best athlete, says Stickney. The oldest Allen, George Jr., will be a sophomore quarterback for Virginia this fall.
The other son, Greg, was Stickney’s kicker last year and a sometimes flanker. “He’s a good kicker,” says Red. “All of the Allens can kick. They go over to Redskin Park and work out with the kickers all the time.
“Greg kicked five field goals for me and didn’t miss an extra point. But he doesn’t like contact.
“We played one game last year and this 140-pound halfback ran back a kickoff against us for a touchdown. Greg just ran alongside of him. He didn’t try to make the tackle.
“He came out of the game and I wanted to kill him. I was so mad I was throwing things. He just looked at me and said, ‘Coach, I told you I didn’t like contact.'”
Stickney coached previously at Potomac High in Oxon Hill, Md. He came to Langley two years ago and inherited a situation where the school had gone 4-46 the previous five years.
“If I coached at Langley the way I did at Potomac, I would have been fired in a week. I used to work their tails off at Potomac, but you can’t do that with these kids.
“You have to have a reason for everything you do. They’re good kids and they play hard, but their favorite word is ‘Why?’ I told the squad one day we’d work some more after practice. They asked why. I said, ‘Because you haven’t got it right,’ but they wanted to know why work after practice.” . . .
For an Alabama player of the hard-nose days, it has been a real experience for Red Stickney. “I didn’t understand them when I got there, and maybe I don’t understand them now or we wouldn’t have been 5-5 last year.
“But I’m learning. It’s tough, though, when you have to go to the Supreme Court when you make a rule.”
From The Roanoke Times, July 20, 1972
Postscript: You get the feeling Stickney wasn’t long for Langley. Sure enough, he left after that season to take the job at Woodbridge (Va.) High. Two years later, he guided the team to a 12-0 record before dropping the Group AAA final to Bethel on a last-minute touchdown. (His big star was running back Russell Davis, a Parade All-American who went on to play for Michigan and the Steelers.)
When Red died in 2004 at 68, David Fawcett of VirginiaPreps.com wrote that the ’74 club “put [Prince William County] on the map for high school football.” It was “the first county team to play for a state championship” and “arguably the most talented prep team ever fielded in county history,” one that included “eight Division I players.”
As for Bruce Allen, the Redskins’ first day of training camp this year in Richmond was July 24. Their president/GM was reportedly in attendance.