There are two locker rooms at the Redskin training camp.One is filled with veterans who are entertained daily by bubbly music from Coy Bacon's tape recorder.
The other is populated by an ever-dwindling number of rookies and free agents. That room was deathly quiet today. It was cutdown time.
"No one was talking, there was no noise," said Greg Dubinetz. Yale '75 and aspiring Redskin offensive tackle. "Maybe tomorrow it will loosen up."
Dubinetz knows well the feeling surrounding cutdown day. He had butterflies this week, even though his chances of sticking with the club as a reserve are excellent. But he has been through too many cutbacks with too many teams not to wonder if that unwanted knock will come on his dormitory door.
Since leaving Yale, Dubinetz has become a football nomad. He is convinced he has pro-caliber ability, yet he hasn't made a strong enough impression on any team to let him prove his point.
But he doesn't stop trying. From the Cincinnati Bengals to the Charlotte Hornets to the British Columbia Lions to the New York Giants to the Toronto Argonauts to the Highland Park Gladiators, Dubinetz has put his skills on display, only to come up short.
He has been done in by rivals' no-cut contracts, by the competition of first-round draft picks, by lack of experience and strength, by the sheer weight of numbers. He has lost roster positions he felt he had won fairly on the field. He has cried when he's been cut and he's shaken his head and accepted the news without much emotion.
Still, it never is easy to hear you aren't good enough.
"There is no good way to be cut," he said. "It helps when you can see the handwriting on the wall and you know it's coming. But when you don't know it, when you get hit by the Mack truck and don't get the license place, then it is hard. Real hard."
This time, it may be different. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, he has the best overall strength, as shown by tests, of any player in camp -- and the Redskin coaches are partial to any athlete with muscle. He has shown well in scrimmages and, when he is started the first exhibition game in place of injured Terry Hermeling, he was not embarrassed by Tampa Bay's standout defensive end, Leroy Selmon.
He has seen other encouraging signs, signs that only someone who has to cling to every optimistic note might notice. The Redskins are trying him out as a backup long-snapper on punts. Since he also can play guard as well as tackle, he thinks having such versatility might make him too valuable to cut.
That is what he has to hope.
"If I make it," he said, "it will be close. I'm the No. 3 tackle right now. If I can hold onto that spot, I guess I'll stay. I'm convinced that if I can be here a year and work with these guys and get this kind of coaching, I can come in here next year and challenge for a starting spot."
But Dubinetz learned long ago not to look that far ahead. There were other close calls. His rookie season, he made it to the final cut with the Bengals after being drafted on the ninth round. He was told by Paul Brown he wasn't strong enough. Now that isn't an excuse any more.
"Why do I keep doing this?" he said, looking down at his hands. "I just don't think I could stand a 9-to-5 job. I don't like to be in that kind of routine.
"Every day out here is different. There are so many emotions involved. I really love football and being associated with the people in the game is really special. The offensive line is especially a tight-knit group.
"I also think I have the ability to play. I'm trying to improve that. Going to Yale hurt me, no doubt about it. Having no spring practice and not going against good competition and not working on weights put me behind. I'm playing catch-up.
"It would have been easier for me to go to med or business school or be a lawyer. But I can do that later."
Dubinetz is no dreamer. Yale produces realists. If he thought he were embarassing himself or making a fool of himself by this quixotic quest, he would have pulled out of the rat race long ago.
He doesn't need the money. He and a friend began a construction company last year in Denver.Dubinetz figures that if he was devoting full time to that trade, he could make $1 million in three years.
He also doesn't need the ego massage. Even when he was the star tackle last year for the Highland Park (2229) Gladiators of the Northern States Football League, he wasn't ashamed. The competition wasn't very good and he wasn't pushed that hard, but he was still playing football, which is really all he has wanted to do since beginning this gridiron odyssey.
"I thought about giving it up once," he said after looking back at all the teams and all the camps he has known in the last five years. "That's when I was cut by the Giants in camp after pulling a muscle. The trainer told me to sit out a few days to let it heal. I was woried the coaches might think I was dogging it, but he said no, they'd understand.
"I think I was cut the next day."
He once played four games with Charlotte of the World Football League before that ill-fated association folded. He had a one-game stint with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League before spending the next year on that franchises's taxi squad.
Yet he is with the Redskins mainly because he was willing to go through one more tryout and take one more chance.
"Pro Football Weekly has this program," he explained, "where they try to give minor league players a better shot at making the big leagues. They get the best of the minor leaguers together and they run you through a series of really tough tests.
"I did it and I had the highest scores of anyone they tested.They sent around the results to the pro teams, I guess, because all of a sudden, eight or 10 teams were interested in me, including the Redskins. I signed with them because I thought I had the best opportunity there.
The Redskins completed cutting the squad to 60 today by releasing four more players including veteran linebacker Ken Geddes, who had been signed as a free agent after playing for Los Angeles and Seattle. Geddes, 31, had lost his quickness and was beaten out by younger rivals . . . Other cuts were defensive lineman Joe Pearson, wide receiver Glenn Starks and middle linebacker Tim Petersen, who once was running second team but had fallen off in exhibition games.