Muscle and strength dominate this Redskin training camp: taut, glistening bodies sweating in the summer heat, biceps straining against the rigors of daily workouts.
Pro football is, more than ever, power and majesty, health and size. The weak have no place here.
John Schachtner and Brian Snow blend nicely into this montage of athleticism. Schachtner is a robust 220-pound linebacker with an outgoing personality and a nasty attitude on the field. Snow is a compact 175-pound place kicker with a strong competitive streak and a desire to succeed.
But they also know what it means to feel out of place in an athletic environment.
Schachtner has a bullet in his liver. He once spent a week on the critical list after losing 2,000 cubic centimeters of blood, nearly half the body's total supply. Before he passed out in the emergency room, the victim of a shooting incident during a college party, he asked the doctor: "Is my football career over?"
Snow has had only one kidney since he was 8. He has struggled almost constantly since then to prove he could continue to play sports. While many people wanted to protect him, he wanted to be treated as normally as possible. Fourteen years later, he's still arguing his point.
In 1979, John Schachtner and some of his Northern Arizona teammates were having a victory celebration at a friend's house when some uninvited motorcycle riders crashed the party. A fight started in the kitchen.
"A biker was at my feet and I bent down to pick him up and toss him out the door," Schachtner said. "A friend of his was standing about a foot away from me. He pulled out a gun and shot me as I was bending over."
The bullet entered his body near his collarbone, pierced a lung and lodged in his liver. For days, doctors couldn't say if he would survive. He dropped from 220 to 180 pounds during his 34 days in the hospital. By the time he was strong enough for an operation, scar tissue already had surrounded the bullet.
"The doctors decided there was no danger to me if they left it there, so they didn't go after it," he said. "It can't move, so I'm in no danger."
Schachtner, then a star linebacker, sat out the next season. His assailant, who used a snub-nosed .38 caliber gun, was sentenced to five years in prison.
But Schachtner's medical problems weren't over. Early last year, during his senior season, he injured his right foot. He played three more games before the pain became so bad he hardly could walk. Doctors finally discovered torn ligaments. He was hobbled for eight months before the foot healed enough to allow him to try out for pro scouts.
His college career is so incomplete that the Redskins had to rely on 1979 game film to judge his abilities. But General Manager Bobby Beathard was intrigued by Schachtner's refusal to give up and by his natural on-the-field aggressiveness.
"He's a sleeper, no question about it," Beathard said of his 1982 seventh-round draft pick. "He is rusty, he's been away so long from full-time playing. He may not be ready very soon either, but we had a great workout with him late, just before the draft. He's the kind of guy you can gamble with, and hope he can come back."
Schachtner is being tried in the middle, competing against Neal Olkewicz and Larry Kubin. He is struggling to familiarize himself with a new position, but at least his foot doesn't hurt anymore and he feels as strong as he did before the shooting.
"I really wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in me after all that has happened," he said. "I'm just trying not to make up all the lost time too fast. I think the Redskins understand where I've been and what I have to learn. I just hope now they give me the time I need."
Brian Snow high jumped 6-4 in high school, where he also was a shot putter. He once was a 10 handicapper in golf. He considered himself a pretty good basketball player. And he knew he was a good place kicker.
But the Massachusetts Secondary School Principals Association knew he had only one kidney. And that meant he was forbidden to play football because of a state rule that any student missing an organ couldn't compete in a contact sport.
Snow's parents challenged the ruling in court. They gained one concession: he could try extra points but not field goals or kickoffs.
"My high school coach would let me warm up before games and I'd kick 50 yarders," Snow said. "By the time the game would start, the other team would be lining up five yards deeper than normal to receive the kickoff. They were always surprised when the guy who did our kickoffs never could get it that deep."
His high school coach convinced authorities at Northeastern University to give his player a full football scholarship. For three seasons, he fared well before a new head coach decided to go with a freshman. Snow won one game with a 52-yard field goal but still spent most of the season on the bench, where he hardly could sell himself to pro scouts.
"All I've ever wanted is a chance," he said. "I understand everyone's reasoning. They are trying to protect me. But I'm healthy. My left kidney is now much larger than normal and I get checked every six months. And I'm not about to start trying to tackle guys. In college I wouldn't run downfield after kickoffs. If a field goal was blocked, it was logical that everyone would go after the ball and not after me, when I would go in the other direction.
"Rolf Benirschke was my defense with the pros when he was kicking despite his problems. I figured the pros would see how successful he was and that would help me. I've just wanted people to see my side, too."
A friend who works for New England helped get him a tryout with the Patriots, who backed off before signing him. He then started calling around the league; the Redskins were the only ones who answered.
"We talked it over with our doctors and we saw no reason not to do it," said scout Charley Casserly. "Brian paid his way down here for the tryout, he was that anxious. We liked what we saw of him and we signed him."
Snow is competing with five others, including draft choice Dan Miller, for a chance to challenge incumbent Mark Moseley. Snow knows he is unlikely to make it.
"The fact I'm here is a start," he said. "With kicking anything can happen. I'm starting to hit the ball pretty well right now and I expect to do well. But at least maybe I can prove I can hold up under a training regimen, that it's okay for teams to look at me.
"I didn't want to be 40 years old and kick myself for missing this opportunity. No matter what happens here, I'm having fun. I love every minute."