The Redskin's holdout situation ended in dramatic fashion yesterday when they placed fullback John Riggins on the NFL "retired" list shortly after cornerback Lemar Parrish informed the club he was ending his six-day walkout.
By having his name put in the "retired-left camp" category, Riggins now will not be able to play for the Redskins or any other league team this season, nor will he be paid.
And General Manager Bobby Beathard said he didn't think "he'll be a Redskin any more in the future either."
Riggins, speaking from his home in Lawrence, Kan., said: "The Redskins finally have done what I have asked them to do twice. I feel comfortable with my retirement. I'm real convincedI'm right. Football isn't fun for me anymore. It would have been futile for me to play this season.
"This is really best for the team. If I had come in, and played without having my heart in it, it would have been very, very hard. I'm glad it's over, but it's really been over for me for weeks."
Riggins still has an option year left on his $300,000 contract after this season. Ironically, it was his desire to have that option changed into a one-year, $500,000 guarenteed contract that first triggered his July 27 walkout.
Beathard said that Parrish, who left camp on Tuesday when he wanted his salary changed from $150,000 to $185,000, will return today "with the same contract he had before. We did not do anything for him."
Parrish agreed with Beathard, saying, "I didn't get anything. I just told them I was coming back the same as I left. The contract I signed was good to me and it's still pretty good to me. The matter is over as far as I'm concerned."
Parrish's attorney, Richard Bennett, said the team "is doing everything they can to help Lemar without renegotiating his contract."
Sources close to Parrish have said from the start of his holdout that the veteran cornerback would not return without some concession by the Redskins and they said yesterday he had been accommodated. But Beathard staunchly maintained that "nothing was done. There are no future considerations involved. Did we give him a loan? No. It would be foolish for us to do anything."
Yesterday's developments were seen by Beathard and Coach Jack Pardee as pivotal to the club's future this season. They felt they had to rid themselves of the continual debate over the holdouts so the team could begin focusing on the season opener against Dallas Sept. 8.
"We were prepared to put Lemar on the retired list too," Beathard said. "The saga of John Riggins is over. There no longer are any distractions or any excuses. That really is important to us. We have to go out and play with the players who want to play football."
Said Pardee: "Things couldn't hang any longer. We had to get tied down with our roster right now. We have to have a good week of preparation for Dallas, but we couldn't with all this hanging over our heads.
"Sure we'll miss John. I'm sorry not to have him, he's been a good player here. We've had to adjust to not having him. But this should have a settling effect. No one is going to be waiting any more for John Riggins to be our savior. That would be a killer.
"We are going to win without him."
Beathard said Riggins would be informed of the club's action "with a telegram. I don't intend to call him. The way he left us, I don't feel any obligation to call him."
Riggins played nine years in the league, including with the New York Jets and four with the Redskins. He is the ninth-leading all-time rusher with 6,811 yards and 44 touchdowns. Last year he gained a career-high 1,153 yards as the No. 1 rushing threat in the Washington offense. But Pardee and Beathard now are gambling that Wilbur Jackson, Clarence Harmon and rookie Ricky Claitt can adequately replace him this season.
Jackson especially will be asked to pick up the bulk of Riggins' running load. It was the acquisition of Jackson from San Francisco for two second-round draft choices that turned the corner in the Riggins' dispute. With Jackson in camp, Pardee and Beathard were convinced they had filled the void created by Riggins' absence.
Asked if he thought the players would understand the Redskins' actions, Beathard said: "They are grown men. I don't know what else they expected us to do. I think they all were getting tired of talking and talking about it too."
Nine days ago, the Redskins thought Riggins was on the verge of returning when he dropped demands for contract changes and hinted broadly he might also change his mine about playing.
But the club grew tired of waiting for him to make up his mind. And when Parrish and cornerback Joe Lavender joined the walkout list Tuesday, Pardee and Beathard ran out of patience. Pardee called the Holdouts "selfish" and the team let it be known that it was contemplating trading or retiring anyone not back in camp Monday.
Parrish and Bennett, however, said yesterday that the Monday ultimatum had nothing to do with Parrish's return.
"If anything ultimatums are counter-productive." Bennett said. "Bobby never told Lemar about a deadline. We are satisfied with what has happened. There are many different ways to "take care of a problem."
Bennett said Parrish left "because he had some financial pressures associated with supporting some people other than himself and his wife. The built up and then Jeris White was signed and the Redskins made it seem like he was the second coming even though he had held out for four weeks.
"That just exaggerated the other problems. But things are okay now."
Parrish declined to specify what triggered his departure, other than to say, "I never told anyone that it involved Jeris White. I'm the best cornerback in the league, so I don't have to be afraid of anyone. They should be afraid of me."
Parrish said he "had some personal things that I had to get squared away. It was a mistake on my part. I got it all straightened out now. I talked to Ken Houston about it a lot and I don't want to let the guys down. It's not business-like to leave at a time like this.
"I should have been a little more considerate. But sometimes things happen like this. You need to think them over. I will come back and be the same happy guy. I told Jack Pardee that I hope there are no hard feelings and that they won't hold it against me."
Parrish said that he "wasn't in bad shape financially. I'm worth about $1 million on paper. The only thing I would have had to do to sit out the season is sell some land. That's not the issue now. The issue is the Cowboys."
Riggins said he would be watching that Cowboy game on TV. "I'll be glad to be here at home," he said. "My teammates may be making the money now but I don't have the pressure anymore. I won't miss the pressure and the sweat.
"I just want to get into the mainstream of life. I've been on a pedestal for a long time. It will be great to be able to walk down the street and not have someone ask you about the team. I'm just going into a permanent offseason."
Riggins said he would concentrate on his economics class at the University of Kansas. He said he didn't feel pressured to get a job "for another year or two," thanks to his savings and the $800,000 in deferred money owed him by the Redskins.
"I was fortunate that I was in the financial position to get out when it wasn't fun any more," he said. "A lot of guys my age aren't and they have to keep playing. But when your heart isn't in it any more, it opens the way to injuries and questions by fans and the rest.
"This is a business but it's also still a game. Those four or five hours on Sunday should still be fun and they weren't for me. I felt like this was an uphill battle and I didn't want that."
Riggins said he might consider playing in 1981, "but that's real remote." And while he said he would like to play for the Redskins again, if he did return, "I realize those chances are unlikely. I'd say right now it's not safe for me to come back to Washington."
Riggins said that in 1973, when he held out during training camp, with the Jets, "at one point I had a hollow feeling in my stomach. I said, this might be the end of my career.
"I don't have that feeling now. So I know things have changed. This feels just like any other day since I left camp. Guess that's not very dramatic, huh?"