The Washington Redskins have run out of patience with holdouts John Riggins and Lemar Parrish and are considering trading or retiring both.
Coach Jack Pardee today called both players "selfish" and said it was time for the holdouts to end.
Pardee's previous statements on holdouts had been fairly mild. But team sources had said he was becoming more irate, and today he admitted "my tolerance level has been tried very much. It's very thin. The unlimited patience has been exhausted."
Added Pardee: "We are prepared to play the season with or without them."
A third AWOL player, Joe Lavender, rejoined the team today. Lavender flew in from Philadelphia after having disappeared Tuesday with Parrish. Lavender said his departure was triggered by that day's player cuts and resulting stomach problems.
General Manager Bobby Beathard said, "We are devoting time to two selfish people when we should be concentrating on the players in camp. Something has to be done about it."
Asked if that means the Redskins would trade or put the two players on the league's "left camp-retired" list, Beathard replied, "We are considering all options. Those are some of our alternatives."
One source outside the team said he would not be surprised "if the Redskins retire John Riggins within the next five days." But club sources indicated that no final decision had been reached on either player.
Pardee was careful to distinguish Lavender, who rejoined the team in time for its game tonight against Tampa Bay, from the other holdouts.
"I think Joe personally is a heck of a guy," Pardee said. "None of his problems (in camp) have come up for selfish reasons."
Riggins walked out of training camp July 26. Both he and Parrish want their contracts renegotiated, but the Redskins adamantly have refused to consider any changes.
"We're losing some depth (without them)," Pardee said, "but we have some good players here. This is very disrupting."
Pardee had a 20-minute talk with Lavender. Afterward, the coach said the cornerback had seen a stomach specialist in Philadelphia.
"We have to find out what's wrong with him and make sure he feels good," Pardee said. "His (stomach) problem is no big concern, but we have to control it."
Lavender underwent major stomach surgery 16 months ago. Twice during camp he reported late without permission because his stomach was acting up.
Levender said he left Tuesday because "of a friend." He said that meant "Donnie Harris and Grady Richardson." Both were cut that day.
"Donnie Harris needed a friend with him," Lavender said. He added that he had no contract problems -- "I've signed a contract, I've got a job to do" -- and that he came back because "it's time to go to work." He would not comment on whether his departure was linked with Parrish's nor if he had talked with Parrish.
"Joe hasn't done anything malicious," Pardee said. "But he was trying to help Donnie out. There are some things he probably shouldn't get involved in. There comes a point where you have to be here. If a person cares about this team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the work done."
Pardee would not say if he had given Lavender an ultimatum on further absences, but it was apparent from the coach's attitude that he had reached the end of the line with his veteran cornerback.
Lavender's return ended Doug Nettle's short-lived Redskin career. Nettles, released by the Colts last week, was going to play against Tampa Bay. But the Redskins said they never signed him to a contract and he was not added to the roster for the contest.
Meanwhile, Richard Bennett, Parrish's attorney, had his first discussion with Beathard and, although Beathard seemed discouraged, Bennett said he was convinced "there is going to be some solution we can work out to resolve the problem. But right now, I don't know what that is."
Asked if he thought Parrish wanted to be traded, Bennett replied, "No comment."