Benny Malone, saying he was "happy as a lark," ended his 48-hour walkout from the Redskin training camp today when he rejoined the club in time to make the flight here from Carlisle, Pa.
Malone, scheduled to replace Mike Thomas at the starting running-back spot, left camp Wednesday afternoon after the club refused to renegotiate his $80,000 contract, which is in its final year.
"One of the reasons I came back," he said, "is I finally realized how good Bobby Beathard has been to me and how good Jack Pardee has been to me.
"I thought about them and my family and I didn't think I should make them suffer. "They didn't renegotiate my contract.I'm not upset about it anymore. Now I just have to go out and earn the money I want. I always seem to learn the hard way in everything I do. I'm not unhappy I left. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do. But sometimes you are selfish. I thought about what I was jeopardizing and I talked to my wife and it enlightens your mind."
Malone contacted General Manager Beathard darly this morning and told him he'd like to come back. "We talked," said Beathar, "and he was happy. I never was that alarmed by all this because I know Benny and he's not the type to do something like this for long."
Malone said he spent the last two days "in a Washington hotel room thinking about boarding a plane bound for Carlisle. There really was more to this than just money. I always seem to have to prove myself and I guess there were some doubts and it built up."
His absence will cost him at least $750 in fines, which he said "is part of the penalty I have to pay. That's part of this game and it's something I have to accept."
Malone was also disturbed about the hamstring pull that has hindered him since the start of camp. He began thinking about how injuries can end anyone's career quickly, and he decided that he needed "security when I could get it."
His return ends the first minicrisis of the training camp. Beathard had maintained all along that Malone would not stay out long and that he would not press the renegotiation issue that far.
"Benny just has something about contracts," Bethard said. "He left but in conversations with people who know him, we all concluded he would be back. He likes to play too much for him to stay out long. And he wouldn't use his starting spot for leverage. He's a team man all the way. I know that may seem hard to accept now, but he really is."
Malone is being pressed for his starting position by Tony Green and Louis Carter. All are expected to play Saturday night against Denver in the Redskins' second exhibition game of the season.