The heartening news for 27 NFL teams is that the 28th - the Los Angeles Rams - keeps getting thrown for losses nearly every day. At a time when one word, maybe dominates all thought, maybe the marriage between the Rams and George Allen is as stable as the usual Hollywood variety.
The training-camp maybe takes several forms. The marginal player says maybe we will be touched with previously unseen grace and power and make the team; the veteran starter says maybe this is the year he makes all-pro; the superstar says maybe the general manager will accidentally add two more zeroes to his contract.
Entire teams dream maybe in training camp. Maybe this is the year the plays are run to perfection; maybe the zebras won't notice us holding; maybe Tom Landry will get bored with football and open a charm school in Port Arthur; maybe the Rams will fall flat on their horns.
Maybe Billy and Reggie will have dinner together tonight. But with that revolving door they have been running so far at camp in Fullerton, Calif., the Rams are showing signs of being vulnerable. When Allen says as he did just the other day, "Duane Thomas gave me fewer problems than some of these guys," you know the honeymoon has ended.
With two more regular season games and the players prohibited from reporting sooner than usual, training camps are being run at the pace of a two-minute drill. Every day that does not go dramatically well is cause for alarm. Every distraction is magnified 10 times.
And Allen has distractions. At one time or another four regulars - cornerback Monte Jackson, wide receiver Ron Jessie, offensive tackle Doug France and linebacker Isiah Robertson - have left camp.
Money was the incentive to exit for Jessie and France. Jackson has asked to be traded. Robertson, publicly critical of Allen shortly after he was hired as coach, is said to be trying to hasten a trade believed to be inevitable.
Immense pressure is on Allen, because the Rams were dissatisified with Chuck Knox for winning only 78 percent of his games and making the playoffs each of his five seasons as coach.
Allen was hired for two games, the logic around the NFL insisted a few weeks ago, the NFC title game against the Cowboys - for he has a history of being able to beat Dallas in important collisions - and the Super Bowl. The Rams are talented enough to dispose of the other NFC West teams on their own, fashionable thought added.
Now it suddenly seems worthwhile to play the regular season.
There is no denying the glitter of Ram stars. Three players they deemed expendable, for a rather stiff price. Tim Stokes, Dan Nugent and Donnie Hickman, could at times comprise half the Redskins' offensive line this season.
Still, talented as they are, the Rams' players are not Allen's players - and that could be significant. For the first time in his 13-year NFL career, Allen does not have players he personally selected.
It takes a special breed to play for Allen, to nedure his longer-than-usual practices and meetings. That was his price for top wages and off-the-field freedoms other teams would not match. Now Allen does not even control the Rams' pocket-book.
Compared to the Rams' camp, the Redskin's camp is tranquil. The differences between Allen's Redskin camps and Jack Pardee's Redskins camps are not fully clear. But one important change is as simple as a drink of water.
The players work extremely hard regardless of the system - and under Allen they had to coax ball boys to sneak ice onto the field to combat heat on days such as yesterday. With Pardee, there is water waiting on the sideline.
And the self-starters Allen found so useful still on hand. A younger player, already exhausted, sees Billy Kilmer, with that left ankle looking like it is ready to snap off its hinge with each step, finish every "strider" near the end of practice and pushes himself to do the same.
Center Len Hauss is in full uniform when that is not required; Ron McDole and Diron Talbert can crack a joke just when that is needed; Ken Houston commands attention simply by putting on his helmet and saying quietly. "Let's go to work."
Anyone who assumed the spirit so noticeable under Allen would disappear when Allen left is wrong. It also is wrong to suggest that Allen cannot remold the Rams to his ways. Or that Pardee has the ultimate coaching system.
But a veteran Redskin was overheard yesterday saying: "This is the second week of training camp and there's no bitching in the training room. Something must be going right."
That implies yet another maybe, that maybe it is possible to treat football as less than life and death and still win. On both coasts, evidence begins to pour in.