The men sitting at the bar last night at Matt Kane's on 13th Street NW had just watched the evening news -- and, for a change, there was good news about Subject A: professional football.
It was the announcement of a tentative settlement of the 57-day National Football League strike, promising a real NFL football game this Sunday.
"I'm glad it's over," said Lewis Hughes. "I have a season ticket to the Redskins. I was mad at the players and the owners. Both of them are greedy." But even this would be forgotten, it appeared, with kickoff time so close at hand.
"I like to watch football when I have the chance and I haven't had the chance lately," said Charles Tsirigotis, a Redskins fan for 32 years. "I'm looking forward to Sunday."
Bartender Pat (No Relation to Ed) Garvey broke in: "I was for the owners. The players were getting what they deserved before the strike. But I guess being a capitalist, I'm in favor of people getting what they can."
"What I want to know is this," said Matt Shkatula, "How in the hell can they be in shape to play on Sunday?"
Then someone turned and asked a new arrival -- Norman Knipe -- what he thought about seeing the Redskins face the Giants after eight Sundays without football.
Knipes' answer was out of step with the enthusiasm of the man on television who'd just broken the news:
"Who cares?" he asked.
Reactions to the possible end of the longest strike in sports history were mixed at other Washington watering holes. Although most people interviewed still knew little about the details of the tentative settlement, many had something to say about the effect of the strike.
A bartender at Millie and Al's on 18th Street NW, Netta Nicholas, said "Thank God it's over, football is good for business."
"The strike's been great for college football," said Clint Fowler at Ireland's Four Provinces on Connecticut Avenue. "I'm an alumnus of Maryland and I love to see the renewed interest in Terrapin football."
At Gallagher's Pub across the street, Michael Whitehouse said, "I learned to live with the strike."
"Sundays," he said "I worked on my car. College ball has been exciting this year, so I didn't miss the pros as much as I might have."
Some fans took definite stands, favoring either the owners or the players. Some were annoyed with both.
Susanne Baldwin, a waitress at Ireland's Four Provinces, said, "I'm a fan but the season won't mean much now. The losers were the fans . . . . My heart was with the players because they are the heroes on the field. Joe Robbie [owner of the Miami Dolphins] is not a hero. On the other hand, the players didn't handle themselves well, and I was unimpressed with player's association negotiator Ed Garvey.
At Millie and Al's, Wallace Terry said, "I hope the players got as much money as they could . . . . They're the ones getting their bodies broken. They're the entertainers. I'm glad it's over. I'm a [Terry] Bradshaw fan and Pittsburgh was off to a good start and they the players don't have that many years left."
Vince Checchi and Kurt Marshall are two football fans who recently returned from two-year stints in the Peace Corps in Morrocco eager to watch NFL action. They talked over the strike at Gallagher's Pub.
"I was looking forward to the season but at this point I'm relatively indifferent," said Checchi. "I don't really care if it's over or not. Once it wasn't around, I really didn't miss it."
"It all put a bad taste in my mouth," said Marshall