Jean Fugett says he is not bitter; hurt yes, bitter no; depressed yes, vengeful no.
"It doesn't do any good to be bitter," said Fugett, who smiles when he mockingly says he is "washed up at 28, retooling my life."
For the past three weeks, Fugett has watched professional football on television in his Potomac home, often asking his wife Ann, "Did I really do this?"
The reply was yes, and Fugett knows he played "this" game well and probably could still play for some team in the National Football League.
He began last season as the Redskins' first-string tight end, on the option year of his contract. He finished the season on the second team and was not offered a new contract.
Just two years ago he ws in the Pro Bowl after a season in which he caught 25 passes, seven of them for touchdowns. It was the third consecutive season Fugett led Redskin receivers in touchdowns.
But there was no contract offer last spring from the Redskins (who were desperately scanning the waiver list two weeks ago looking for a tight end) despite Fugett claiming his injured knee is completely healed. And there was only one feeler from another football team in the NFL.
"So I guess that means I'm retired," said Fugett, who joined the Redskins in 1976 after playing out his option in Dallas.
He thinks the Redskins put thumbs down on him, telling other teams: Here is a guy who won't play hurt earning $250,000 a year (his salary was closer to $125,000), seeking a guaranteed contract, a clubhouse lawyer (he was the Redskins' player representative) and a player who wouldn't work hard.
The general manager of the Redskins', Bobby Bethard, "absolutely" denies Fugett's charges.
"Jean Fugett made his own reputation," Bethard said. "He ran himself out of the league and he doesn't have anyone to blame but himself. I never discussed his salary with anyone -- including the one team which called us last March.
"I'd like Jean to get a job," Bethard continued. "I wish he would have worked hard enough to have had a job here. But that's not his nature."
"We had tight ends here who had talent and were willing to work hard to be NFL players. We didn't feel Jean, with his work habits, would fit in with the Redskins."
Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFL Players Association, says Fugett is an example of how teams "use the system" to their advantage.
"Teams don't want to sign or bid for players with high salaries because they do not need to win to make money," Garvey said. "So they don't bid for anyone. Instead, they sign a kid for less money. Jean Fugett is free and could play for a number of teams. So could Larry Csonka and other veterans."
Fugett says his goal now is to become a lawyer, although he would consider playing again, particularly if George Allen gets a job. He claims the Redskins disliked him because he says they felt he was not sufficiently dedicated to football ("they didn't like me going to school at night, as though it might start a trend"), would not play hurt ("I let them do things to me with a needle in Dallas when I was a kid. I'm no kid anymore.") and did not practice enough.
"I'm past the stage of playing or practicing when I'm injured," Fugett said. "(John) Riggins wouldn't practice during the week and he played on Sunday; but I feel they punished me.
"Now Riggins is gone and I'm gone. I don't blame Riggins for walking out. After eight years in the league you deserve some consideration in the way of securtiy. You shouldn't have to try out for a team, worrying whether or not you're going to get injured, and whether ornot the team will pay you if you do get hurt.
But the teams control it all. They make you play their game. They don't have to win. All they have to do is provide an illusion of credibility."