Perry Brooks went out and drank whiskey on the rocks. He became "drunk as a skunk." I was out of it. My wife and I started having problems. I just did things I normally wouldn't do."
Mike Gibbons felt bitter. He decided he would prove he could play. Seven years later, he still is trying to prove it.
John McDaniel didn't believe it was happening. Realizing his football career might be over, he described his emotional state as "an empty feeling." He sat around doing nothing for a couple of days, then started making business contacts.
Mark Moseley, a recent newlywed, had $40 in his pocket when the Philadelphia Eagles cut him prior to his second NFL season. He and his wife slept in their car on the way back to Texas.
Almost every National Football League Player lives with the anxiety of rejection, of failing to make the team, waiting for that dreaded message, "Bring your playbook; the coach wants to see you."
Next week is the first major cut-down of the preseason, to 60 players. By Sept. 2, teams must reduce their roster to the regular-season limit of 45. Tuesday, Dick Myers, an assistant general manager, will knock on 13 Redskin dormitory doors here at Dickinson College.
For many, it will be the first rejection of their football careers, the big man on campus brought back to reality. The men here who already have suffered that fate at least once -- Moseley, all-pro last season, was released twice -- coped with getting fired in different ways.
Gibbons who started part of two seasons with the New York Giants before a change in offensive line coaches, put the situation in perspective: "Until it happens to you, you don't understand the feelings."
Today, after lifting weights following the morning practice, Brooks, who the Redskins hope will mature into Diron Talbert's replacement at right defensive tackle, recalled the summer of 1976, when he was a hot-shot young lineman drafted by the New England Patriots.
He was cut six weeks into two-a-days.
"It was a really horrible feeling," Brooks said, "since I'd been in six weeks of two-a-days. You'll just be out of it. You wonder what you did wrong, why you go through six weeks of two-a-days and bust your butt."
Drinking probably is what players do most often after getting cut. The consensus is that beer, not whiskey, is the more consumed drink.
Brooks' problems, he said, did not end there. After he and his wife drove home to Baton Rouge, La., their car, a 1967 Mercury, caught fire on Vriginia Street. Today, Brooks sees that as an omen, since he now lives in Virginia.
Back then, it simply complicated things. He started working at a chemical plant, packing rubber.He also usually went out drinking with the boys after work, complicating his domestic life, he said.
There'll be so much pressure on you." Brooks said. "You've worked so hard for something you look forward to and just, hell, something like that to happen to you. That's what it is -- pressure."
For six months, his life was in turmoil. Then the Redskins called. He quit his job to get into the best condition he could. He still is not certain he will make this team.
Getting cut by Kansas City, didn't affect McDaniel that badly. From interviews with about 10 current Redskins who have been cut at least once, the emotional reaction and the consequences of getting fired varied, as they would in any business.
"You have to have an attitude that you can get cut at any time," said McDaniel. "You can't put all your marbles in one basket. While I was gone last year (for three weeks, his second cut), I did miss the game. But I made business contacts.
"I stayed in town a couple of days. After a week or so, I started to make business contacts. If you get at a standstill, life passes you by."
Said George Starke, the starting offensive right tackle who was drafted by Washington (11th round out of Columbia in 1971), traded and then released by two other clubs, only to be signed by the Redskins again as a free agent:
"Most guys who get cut expect to get cut. It's anticipation of getting cut that's the worst part. Most of the guys know when they come in the odds are against them. For those guys who don't, that's the toughest."
Fortunately for him. Starke was a bachelor. Some players face great mental stress because they have families and no job prospects. "I didn't have any money, but I didn't have a wife and two kids at home, either," he said.
Mike Nelms was cut as a rookie by Buffalo in 1977. The next day, a a Canadian team signed him and he went on to become an outstanding safety and punt returener in the CFL. In April, he became a free agent there and was signed by Washington
"I wouldn't even consider getting married until I knew my situation would be stable," he said. "It was too much for me to go through and too much to put somebody else through. I wouldn't even attempt it."
Nelms characterized his fate at Buffalo "more of a blow to my ego than a big emotional letdown."
Gary Anderson, another of a good number of solid offensive linemen here who will get caught up in the numbers game, has been cut twice in his first three years as a pro after being drafted out of Stanford.
"When somebody tells you you're not good enough to play here, it's a crush. As soon as you clear waivers, you're on the phone trying to get a tryout somewhere," he said. "I'm a bachelor; it's much tougher on the married guys. I just pick up and go."
His close friend here in training camp is Gibbons, who is married.
"Marriage-wise, it's been tough," Gibbons said. "I don't know if I should talk about it."
He said about being cut, "You feel so bitter that you want to show them that you can play. Gibbons feels he has the talent. Yet, he says that if he is cut here and no one picks him up within a month, "I won't wait this season for next year. I'll try to get in a training program, get a permanent job and be a regular person for a change."
The conversation got around to Moseley, and Gibbons noted, "Even the good players need a break. You see it everywhere."
After getting cut by Philadelphia, Moseley was signed by Houston. After the first game of the 1972 season. Moseley was cut by Bill Peterson, the head coach. Peterson said he dreamed one night that he had cut Moseley, so he did, the next day.
Moseley could not get an NFL team to return his phone calls for two years. He worked and so did his wife, so Mosely could keep in shape as a placekicker. "Probably, without her working, I wouldn't have been able to work out."
Finally, Curt Knight and the Redskins became involved in a salary dispute. George Allen called Moseley. "Probably," Moseley said, "if it hadn't been for Curt doing what he did, I would have never gotten an opportunity again."
Because of the long week and good practices, Coach Jack Pardee canceled Friday morning practice and made curfew one hour later, midnight.