On the Redskins team plane flying home from the playoff disaster in Minnesota, wide receiver Roy Jefferson told his teammates and coach George Allen that he probably had played his last professional football game.
One month later the veteran of 12 NFL seasons says little has changed.
"I'm not ruling it out, but I don't have any great hopes of playing agains," he said yesterday.
Jefferson's final decision to give it one more shot will come in May or June, he said, and will depend entirely on how his injured left knee feels.
The Redskins may have other ideas, however. While no one in the organization will say so publicly, the feeling, according to several team sources, is that Jefferson would be better off not trying simply because there are a number of swift, young and healthy receivers around to take his place. He would have trouble making the team, they say.
After the Viking game "I didn't think I could ever play on the knee again," he said. "I thought it was really bad. But I worked out last week and it felt a lot better, so I'm still hopeful. But right now, I'm not thinking I'll be playing. If it does come around, then maybe I'll try again."
Jefferson's left knee was operated on last winter, and he said he was told at the time he would probably be better off not playing any more.
He admitted yesterday, for the first time, that he never really expected to make the team last summer until Charley Taylor suffered a shoulder injury early in training camp and was lost for the season.
"Then they needed me, so I played," he said. "What really bothered me was that they never come forward with a new contract proposal for me. I played last year with a 10 per cent cut because it was my option year."
Jefferson reportedly is in the $80,000 base-pay range. In the recent Yazoo Smith case, testimony revealed that he made a total of $113,450 for the 1973 season, with base pay of $70,000 and the rest in bonus and incentive money.
If Jefferson does not sign a new contract by May 1 - and the Redskins are not expected to offer him one - he will become a free agent.
He said if he does decide to come back, he would like to play for the Redskins, but would not be adverse to going elsewhere.
Jefferson came to Washington in a trade with Baltimore in 1971 and had his best season as a Redskin that first year with 47 catches. He started six games in 1975, but his knee forced him out of the lineup and he was replaced by Frank Grant.
He limped through most of 1976, as well, and had 27 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns, although he started all season. He also tore ligaments, in hsi left thumb against the Vikings and needed surgery the following week to repair the damage.
Jefferson is currently working for a Virginia carpeting and flooring concern as a salesman supplying builders and contractors.
"Ballplayers become dependent on football and don't do anything to prepare for when it's not there," he said. "Up until a few years ago I was as guilty as anyone. You always think football is going to be there.
"I think I'm prepared for it now. If it happens that way, I can deal with it. I like what I'm doing. If I can play again, fine. If not, well, it had to end sometime."