Enough is enough, Dick Vermeil, the Philadelphia Eagles' workaholic coach, protested the day after his team upset the Pittsburgh Steelers. To some newsmen and opposing coaches, it is a joke that Vermeil sleeps overnight at the office.
"Cripes sake, man, I get tired of people poking fun at me," Vermeil said yesterday. "I'm just trying to do what's necessary to win. People think I'm crazy or something. I got calls from the Pittsburgh writers all last week making jokes about it. There are assistant coaches on other teams who joke about it.
"Hell, I'd like to go home at night. But with an hour-and-a-half drive home and back I'd never get any sleep at all. If there was an easy way to do what I think has to be done right, I'd do it. We're trying to catch up and become a better football team. To be more successful, you have to work harder."
Since 1960, when Norm Van Brocklin -- with a backup quarterback named Sonny Jurgensen -- led the Eagles to the NFL championship, Philadelphia fans have lived with frustration.
There were changes in ownership and accompanying instability. And there were some trades that, in retrospect, were downright disgracefull -- for instance, the deal that sent Jurgensen and linebacker Jimmy Carr to the Redskins for Claude Crabb and Norman Snead.
And, when a George Allen disciple, Mike McCormack, bacame coach in 1973, he used his mentor's theory of trading draft choices for immediate help. He gave up two No. 1 draft choices for quarterback Roman Gabriel and another for quarterback Mike Boryla. They didn't help.
So, the Eagles made some bad trades and were left devoid of high draft picks. When they chose UCLA linebacker Jerry Robinson in the first round this year, it was their first No. 1 pick since 1973. Their highest draft choice the past five years was in the third round.
So Vermeil had plenty of catching up to do when owner Leonard Tose lured him from UCLA in 1976. As in any losing program, changing attitudes was a high priority. Vermeil, a feisty man, decided to do it with hard work.
Harold Carmichael, the Eagles' ninth-year wide receiver who has caught passes in 101 straight games, has gone through the famine. He is enjoying these feast times, a 4-1 start this season going into Sunday's game against the Redskins after a 9-7 record last year and the Eagles' first playoff berth since 1960.
"We've gotten together, put our heads together," Carmichael said yesterday. "Dick's the type of motivating coach. He's a demanding hard worker. He gives you everything you need to know. He works his coaches hard. We can't go into a game saying we weren't prepared."
And the hard work, Carmichael said, stimulates team unity.
"You see he's working hard, so it makes everybody want to work harder. And the way we work hard brings the guys together. We know we're in it together. We might as well be one, do it as one."
The Eagles have always been a physical team. But now, according to Vermeil's peers around the league, the team is better coached, more fundamentally sound.
"We have more good football players here than people give us credit for," Vermeil said. "It's just that not too many people know about them, and some of them didn't know how good they could play."
From 4-10 in his first season, Vermeil's Eagles were 5-9 in 1977 before making the playoffs last year with Philadelphia's first winning season since 1966.
"Not much fancy stuff," said Kirk Mee, the Redskin assistant who scouts future opponents. "They're just a hard, physical team. Always have been."
What gives this team so much more potential than last season's is a new confidence -- "The Day the Eagles Believed in Themselves," screamed a headline two days after the Pittsburgh game -- and a competent kicking game.
Tony Franklin, the barefoot rookie from Texas A&M, has kicked eight field goals in nine attempts. Like the Redskins' Mark Moseley, he leads his team in scoring. The punter, Max Runager, also is a rookie. His average is slight, 36.9 yards, but nine of his 23 punts have been inside the 20.
The leading punter in University of South Carolina history is a feisty, energetic man, like his coach. He runs up and down and sidelines, congratulating teammates. That kind of spirit is catching.
Otherwise, there have not been many changes in this flock, only improvement with age:
Offensive backfield and receivers: Quarterback Ron Jaworski, like the Redskins' Joe Theismann, is playing the best of his career, with his passing percentage up and interceptions down. Wilber Montgomery has 452 yards rushing and fullback Leroy Harris, a late acquisition from Miami, is learning the system. Carmichael and tight end Keith Krepfle are excellent receivers. Steady unit, with only nine turnovers in five games.
Offensive line: A veteran unit that has overcome injuries. Rookie Pete Perot has replaced injured veteran Wade Key at right guard. The other four starters have combined NFL experience of 33 years.
Defense: Eagles rank third in the NFC in total defense. The unit is anchored by superb nose guard Charlie Johnson. It plays a basic 34 except in obvious passing situations when it uses the standard nickel with four rushmen and five defensive backs. Terry Tautolo, a special-teams star from UCLA, has replaced Bill Bergey without getting burned yet. Backfield includes a rookie free safety, Brenard Wilson.
Special teams: Franklin and Runager already noted. Return man Wally Henry is one of the best. He has returned from a broken leg to lead the NFC in kickoff returns and rank fourth in punt returns.
Wide receiver Dennis Law was at Redskin Park for a one-day tryout and was impressive, clocking 4.5 in the 40-yard dash . . . Danny Buggs (bruised toe) and Ricky Thompson (hip pointer) were on the field walking yesterday, and tight end Jean Fugett and running back Buddy Hardeman were used as wide receiver on a light day of drills . . . Coach Jack Pardee said no decision to sign another wide receiver would be made until this morning at the earliest. But he indicated he would probably lean toward Chris DeFrance, a rookie cut last week to make room for defensive tackle Perry Brooks, because De France is familiar with the system and "could help us this week . . ." Cornerback Lemar Parrish has an interception in six straight games, two shy of the league record . . . Mark Moseley leads the NFC in points scored with 42 and needs one more point to tie Curt Knight's Redskin record of 475.