If Gary Valbuena's latest venture into football is as successful as his real estate dealings, the Redskins might wind up profiting handsomely.
Valbuena, the gangly 6-foot-4, 204-pound Tennessee alumnus, is trying to force Washington to carry three quarterbacks this year through his preseason performances.
He's already failed twice in efforts to make the Miami Dolphins after gaining two years' experience in the World Football League. But now he says things are different for him.
"I don't have to play football to make a living," he said. "I don't have to depend on what I do here to survive. I've been successful enough in real estate ventures in California to have an income there.
"That takes away a lot of the pressure. It's no longer a life-and-death situation. I'm here because I really love to play the game, not out of desperation."
Valbuena is vice president of Professional Sports Management, Inc., an investment company in Palm Springs, Calif. His agent and attorney, Rod Wright, is president.
"We formed it 2 1/2 years ago," Valbuena said. "I wanted to do something in the offseason other than football, so I tried out real estate.
"We hit California at a real good time, right in the middle of the real estate boom. We've done okay. Although it's cooled down some, you still can be successful if you know the right spots."
Such baseball players as George Foster and Bobby Bonds have Professional Sports Management making their real estate investments. So why is Valbuena subjecting himself to another training camp and another possible disappointment?
"I just think I have the ability to make a team in this league," he said."There have always been circumstances surrounding the other camps that worked against me.
"Let's face it, you have to be in the right place at the right time. That's so important. In Miami, that never worked out."
Valbuena, who is 26, lost out in his firth tryout with Miami when Coach Don Shula decided to keep Earl Morrall around one more season. Don Strock was given the third spot and Valbuena was sent back to California.
The next year, he was certain he would make the club. But Bob Griese was struggling with his vision, Morall was gone and Shula wanted to go with Strock. Just in case Strock failed, he wanted a veteran backup, so the Dolphins brought in Steve Spurrier.
"The night before, Shula told me not to worry, that I had the team made," said Valbuena. "Then, 24 hours later, the whole situation changed.
"I knew I was better than Strock; I was convinced of it. But they had five years invested in him and so you can't blame Shula for going with him.
"And I guess you can't blame him for wanting some experienced backup help. But they cut Spurrier in a week. By then, I was home. i had a few real estate deals in escrow and it was going to cost me more money to stay in camp than to leave.
"I just couldn't afford to wait, and I didn't. But I'm not bitter about it, really. Miami would be one of the teams I'd play for if they asked. I like their system and the way they do things. The same with the Redskins. They are classy."
Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard was with Miami during Valbuena's tryouts. Last year, after Valbuena went to Canada "because of the money" but then quit the Edmonton team - "I just didn't like it" - he said he talked with Beathard about joining Washington.
"But they already had some quarterbacks and it was really too late," he said. "It was tough for any team to pick up a quarterback then, unless there were injuries.
"When Bobby wanted me to come in this year, I was happy. I know he realizes what I can do."
Valbuena was just a 10th-round pick in 1974 out of Tennessee, where he functioned as a veer quarterback despite being a better passer than runner. He was told by the Tennessee coaches that if he left California, where he was a high school sensation, and joined the Volunteers, the offensive system would be altered to allow more passing.
"It never happened," he said. "I don't have regrets about going to Tennessee, but I'm sure it hurt me in the draft. They didn't know if I could pass or not." B eathard has a knack for locating hidden athletic treasures and that is one reason he has never given up on this particular quarterback, who now sports a handsome dark beard.
Although the Redskins carried three quarterbacks most of last season, Valbuena is no cinch to be on the roster for the opening game despite having to compete in this camp against only Joe Theismann and Kim McQuilken.
"Jack (Pardee) isn't adverse to just having two quarterbacks around," offensive coordinator Joe Walton said. "It will depend on how they perform.
"Gary needs to improve. He has a nice arm and he's working hard but he has some bad habits. Fortunately, they are all correctable habits.
"It's really early to get a read on him. A couple of weeks of scrimmages and work against the veterans will be a better test. I know that when he sets up right, he looks good. But he has to be more consistent, just like Joe (Theismann) had to learn to set up better.
"But that third spot won't be a gift. He has to earn it."
Which suits Valbuena just fine.
"I feel I have as much experience as McQuilken," he said. "What I need to do is to play. With just three quarterbacks here, I'm getting plenty of work and thats good for me.
"Sure, I am behind as far as knowing the system but I'm picking it up. I'm trying to have good practice habits and correct my mistakes. I think that will show up in things like the scrimmage Saturday (against Baltimore)."
And if Valbuena fails, he can always return to California and those real estate deals.
But right now, I'd like to keep that part-time job," he said.
Diron Talbert tested his knee in contact work during the afternoon practice and held up well.... Two cuts: running back Harry McCall and receiver Antonio Castle...Offensive lineman Fred Dean sat out the practice with a bad ankle and tight end Bill Helms was limping on a bad thigh...Best catch of the camp so far was registered by Ricky Thompson, who pulled in a diving, full-stretch-of-the-body reception that had players and coaches applauding...Center Bob Kuziel, who has been bothered by a hamstring pull, checked into camp... the club is short of both offensive and defensive linemen. "We may have to borrow a (offensive) tackle from (Colt coach) Ted (Marchibroda) Saturday," said Parde.