It begins the same way every morning, with a loud clang from a bell tolling at 7:15 to announce the start of another long summer day of sweat, strain, study and semisleep before lights out 15 hours later.
It is called training camp, a five week rite of summer professional football players have endured for years to prepare for the rigors of a season in the National Football League.
Mark Murphy, a young safety and special team man from Colgate University, is now in his second Redskin camp, and the other day he allowed a reporter to accompany him from breakfast to curfew and most spots in between.
This is Wednesday, the third day of two-a-day practices, and Murphy's legs are stiff and sore as he climbs into his morning shower, hoping to ease the ache under five minutes of hot water.
Murphy lives on the second floor of Adams Hall on the Dickinson College campus, and he is alone now because his roommate, Ron Saul, a nine-year veteran, is not required to attend rookie camp. Murphy is not either, but it has been suggested to him that it would be to his advantage to be in camp. And so he is.
By 7:30 a.m. Murphy has walked from his room to the dining hall in the Dickinson student union just across campus for his favorite meal of the day.
"Breakfast is the only meal I can really enjoy," he says. "The other two meals I'm just pouring liquids down my throat. It's tough to eat after practice." But it is not tough in the morning, so Murphy loads his tray with three scrambled eggs, three slices of Canadian bacon, a bowl of cereal, grapefruit, two doughnuts and a 16-ounce glass of orange juice.
Murphy sits at a table with Don Hover, a rookie linebacker from Washington State.
Table talk drifts to the morning's news, that veteran defensive tackle Bill Brundige will miss the season with a foot injury. Murphy recalls that Brundige suffered frostbite in a game against St. Louis a year ago because his feet were so tightly taped.
By 8 a.m. Murphy has finished his meal and returns to his room "just to get off my feet." The room is air conditioned but is sparsely finished. There is a New Testament and a novel, "Fairytales," on the bookshelf, and a clock radio set 10 minutes ahead on the desk. "You can't afford to be late," he says.
At 8:29 Ron Wade, a free agent defensive end back for his second trial with the Redskins, knocks on Murphy's door and they head toward the practice field, a half a mile away, in Murphy's new blue Jeep.
At the field Murphy changes into shorts and a T-shirt, steps on the scale outside the training room door and writes 208 under his name on the weight chart on the wall. He will weigh in again after practice, and also before and after the afternoon session.
In the training room, he takes a vitamin C pill, them sits down on a table to get his ankles taped by trainer Larry Nottingham. Back in the locker room he pulls on his pads and jersey and talks to defensive back Don Harris about a defense they will be working on during the morning session.
A 9 a.m. practice begins, and for the next 2 1/2 hours Murphy is a man in motion. There are pass-catching drills, a treacherous run through the ropes, calisthenics, tackling practice, one-on-one work against a receiver, 3-on-3 drills, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, all under 90 degree heat and choking humidity.
Murphy's uniform is soaked with sweat 45 minutes into the workout and by the time the 2 1/2-hour session is over, not even four 12-ounce cans of Gatorade can keep him from weighing in after the practice at 205.
He has his second shower of the day, then heads back to the training room for an ice whirlpool bath that seems to refresh his legs. The water is chilled to 55-degrees and Murphy can stand it for a minute before he climbs out. He does it again for another minute, towels off and changes back into his cut-off jeans and a Theta Chi T-shirt.
Murphy drives from the field over to dining hall, and though he insists he has trouble eating, once again his tray is filled to capacity. Today's menu includes a 10-ounce steak, two slices of bread, salad, pineapple rings, cottage cheese, water-melon and two 16-ounce cups of lemonade.
Murphy, Wade, defensive lineman Duncan McColl and trainer Keoki Kamau sit together and, of course, the heat is the main topic of conversation.
BY 12:30, Murphy has cleaned his plate, had a refill on the lemonade and is ready to head back to his room. He writes letters to his girl friend and to his parents. By 1 p.m. Murphy is in bed, trying to nap for 90 minutes before the start of practice at 3 p.m.
By 2:30, he is back at the field, weighing in (back to 208) and getting a second tape job before the start of the second workout.
During the 2 1/2 hours on the field, Murphy goes through most of the same drills and maneuvers of the morning session. On one play, he tips a pass that is intercepted by defensive coordinator Doc Urich, who tells him that play will soon be incorporated into the playbook.
When Murphy trudges off the field at 5:20 p.m. his work day is hardly through. For the next 20 minutes, he pumps the weights. This day there are six sets of power pulls to complete, a lift off the ground up to the chin with weights ranging from 95 to 145 pounds.
He does a set of 10, a set of eight, a set of five and three sets of three before heading for the showers, another ice bath - "It's getting to be a ritual for me," he says - and the drive back to his room to pick up hi play book. His weight now is 203.
At 6:30 p.m. Murphy is back in the food line, this time loading up on turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, salad, bread and butter, mashed potatoes and two more 16-ounce cups of lemonade. There are also eight different flavors of ice cream available and gooey chocolate sauce, nuts and cherry toppings, but Murphy avoids those goodies as he sits down at a table with McCall, Wade, rookie receiver Walker Lee and rookie quarterback John Hurley.
At 7:10 p.m. Murphy goes to his first meeting of the night, with special teams coach John Hilton. They discuss field goal formations and field goal protection, and Hilton shows a film of last year's unit in action.
There are a few plays focusing on veteran Ron McDole blocking kicks, and several of the younger players are amazed to see that McDole, who will be 39 in September, is usually the first lineman off the ball and very nearly gets a block on almost every play.
At 7:30 p.m. Coach Jack Pardee meets with the whole team for five minutes. This evening he tells them he is pleased with practice, that they had fewer broken plays and seemed to be concentrating better. He also tells them that despite the heat and humidity he expects them to work hard the next day.
"If you want to play in this league you have to put up with things like that," he tells them. "There's a lot of guys out there sitting in a bar thinking they can play pro ball. But you're the ones who are here, and if you want to stay you have to work for it."
The meeting breaks up with the offense going one way and the defense another. Pardee goes over plans for what will be put in the following day's practic, and at 7:50 p.m. the defensive linemen depart for a separate session. Linebackers and defensive backs stay with Pardee and secondary coach Richie Petitbon and for the next 90 minutes they are together.
On this night, Pardee is putting in a weak-zone coverage.
Finally, at 9:15 the meeting breaks up, and the players are on their own. On this night, Murphy, Wade, rookie cornerback Chuck Rodgers and assistant publicity director Charlie Taylor head out for a bite to eat at a quiet tavern called Alfee McDuff's in downtown Carlisle.
The players all order bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and over the next hour, two pitchers of light beer are consumed. Wade and Rodgers are curious about the treatment of rookies once the veterans come in, and Murphy tells them about the night fullback Clarence Harmon was asked to sing his fight song at dinner "We all knew Clarence had this little lisp." Murphy says, "and then he gets up on the chair and starts singing "Mithithippi Thate, Mithith-ippie Thatate. Well the whole room just cracked up."
At 10:30, the group gets up and heads for the door. "Are those guys football players?" a man at the bar asks a reporter trailing behind "Yeah, they must be," he says, answering his own question. "They look kinda' beat."