Pete Wysocki, that wild and occassionally wacky wedge-buster and part-time Washington Redskin linebacker, said yesterday he has decided to retire from football because, "You just don't want to stay too long at the dance."
Wysocki, 32, and a six-year veteran of the National Football League, said: "I need to do some other things with my life. I've played 10 years professionally (four in Canada), I don't want to walk away limping with my nose plastered all over my face."
After the 1980 season ended, Wysocki took a job as an advertising salesman with WMAL Radio, another factor in his decision to retire.
"I'm not sure I would have had the drive to play," he said. "I'm getting tired of getting knocked around and doing the knocking myself. Even when you're the guy delivering the blows, the body still suffers. I take a look at my hands and I'll tell you one thing, I ain't never going to be asked to do a dishwashing ad."
Wysocki said he purposely did not discuss his plans with the new Redskin coach, Joe Gibbs, "because I didn't want that to enter the decision. I've heard nothing but fantastic things about the guy.Richie Petibon is staying to coach the defense, and they're bringing back Torgy (defensive line coach LaVern Torgeson), who I'd love to play for again. It's tempting definitely.
"That thing about them tearing the uniform off your back . . . I don't like that idea. I'd rather get out on my own terms. I don't like people remembering players who should have quit years ago. Four things can happen to you in this game. You get injured, you get traded, you get cut or you can retire when you want to retire. That's what I want to do. And I can't be talked out of it."
Wysocki said he was privileged to have had such teammates as Ken Houston, Billy Kilmer and Chris Hanburger, "and to have played for two great coaches: George Allen and Jack Pardee. I'll never forget walking into training camp that first year, looking around the locker room and seeing 22 all-pros sitting around the room. George was a great coach. I only wish I'd played more at linebacker. I'm grateful to Jack for giving me the chance to play from scrimmage.
"To tell you the truth, it's been a lot of fun. I don't remember too many sad times, except for a few casts on my body and needles stuck in me, but I enjoyed it all."
Wysocki came to the Redskins as a free agent in 1975 and made the team with spectacular play on the special teams. He developed a reputation as one of the league's wild men on punt and kickoff return units, throwing his body around with little regard for his health or well-being.
He became a starter in 1979, and started eight games at outside linebacker last season. Though the Redskins seem about to embark on a youth movement, Wysocki said yesterday he had no doubt he could play another few years, if not in Washington then somewhere in the NFL.
Wysocki was considered one of the Redskins' genuine free spirits, a man who never lost his sense of humor, even when the team was playing poorly. "I loved the game," he said yesterday, "but I always tried to keep things in perspective. The game's been my mistress for a lot of years. It's just time to go on to something new."