Diron Talbert knew precisely why the man with the open notebook and poised pen was hovering at his locker yesterday."You want me to say something that'll rile 'em up in Dallas, right?" he said. "Well, I don't feel any different about them than I ever did."
Which is to say that Talbert, the tall talkative Texan who plays defensive tackle for the Redskins, does not particulary care for the Cowboys and is not hesitant to say so.
Often in the past, there was a sneaking suspicion among local media people that Talbert was acting as George Allen's mouthpiece, that the coach wanted him to bait the Cowboys, particularly Roger Staubach. It was all part of Allen's psyschological preparation for the team the former coach loved to hate.
Talbert insisted yesterday Allen never had to program him. "What I said was my idea not his." I don't have a lot of love for Dallas, there's nothing new about that, and I'm sure they don't have a lot of love for me. That's how it goes.
"It's not so much the players as it is the organization. I know some of their players quite well, and a few always used to ask me what kind of salary should be making. That's my biggest complaint about the organization.
"Maybe they've started to pay their players a little more, but over the years they've just paid two or three key players and that was about it.
"That franchise has made a lot of money, and a man plays only a few years." It's a shame some of those guys who have played for so long aren't in the higher brackets.
"I really don't know how they get away with it. I really don't. You figure a guy playing 10 years ought to be making six figures. A veteran should be making that kind of money, especially if you're winning. But in Dallas, they never did."
George Allen used to remind the Redskins about that sort of thing all the time, Talbert said, adding that "George really did hate the Cowboys, and he got us to hate them, too. It was their whole system, I think. Even when we played them in L.A. George got pretty worked up.
"He'd talk about the situation in the Eastern Division. Obviously, the Cowboys shouldn't have been in the east. But they stuck Dallas in the division with some of the worst teams in football and they dominated it for years.
George would say that Tex Schramm (the Cowboy president) was the reason for it. Schramm got Rozelle his job, that kind of thing. And really, that does get you kind of furious, to know that it was a set-up division. It gave us more incentive to knock them off.
"George got us hating the organization more than we did the players. He'd also bring up things like computerized drafting, that kind of stuff. And I think it helped our team.
"It never got old under George. It just had a way of firing you up. And for that game, you should be charged up and raring to go.
"I don't know what (Coach) Jack Pardee's approach will be, but he really shouldn't need an approach. Just show us what we need to know and let us play our game.
"If you have to hate somebody to play well, then you've got to hate 'em. When you play Dallas, it's easy to do.
"They're the type of team if you make one mistake they can capitalize in a hurry. So you've really got to dislike them going in and really want to do a job on them. I'm sure they've got the same feeling about us."
The Redskins had another day off from practice. Most were at Redskin Park for workouts and weight-lifting on their own . . . The latest statistics list Joe Theismann as the leading quarterback in the NFC; John Riggins second behind Dallas' Tony Dorsett in rushing and Tony Green leading in punt and kickoff returns. The Redskins offense is ranked second in the NFC, second rushing and eighth passing, with the defense ninth overall, seventh against the pass and 12th against the rush. The Cowboys lead the NFC in total rushing and pass offense and are eight in total defense, third against the rush, 14th against the pass.