The whirring sounds of film projectors filled the halls at Redskin Park yesterday, just as they do on any Tuesday during the season. It was business as usual for the coaches, even if their players were on strike.
"You have to be ready with a game plan just in case it gets settled early," said Torgy Torgeson, the defensive line coach. "Anyway, it's better to study film than to just sit around. That would drive you crazy."
Outside, the parking lot was only half full. This normally is the players' day off, so only a few stopped by. There were no pickets or any other signs, for that matter, that the season suddenly had taken such a dramatic turn.
"I heard that we only have today to get our stuff so that's what I'm doing," said running back Joe Washington as he walked to the locker room. An NFL Management Council ruling yesterday placed the park off limits to all players, starting today, even those, like Washington, on injured reserve.
"We had hoped that Dan Riley (the weight coach) could help us with our weight workouts," said Mark Murphy, the team player representative. "But now that's out. We also had hoped they would give treatments to the people on injured reserve, but that isn't going to happen either.
"I know they are upset at the park over some of that. But I think the rulings are just designed to put even more pressure on the players."
Said one Redskins official: "We would have liked to treat the injured players, but now they will have to go to a doctor's office for help, I guess."
Today, instead of practicing as usual, Redskins players will begin self-supervised team workouts in suburban Virginia. The practices will continue daily, except for weekends, until the strike ends, Murphy said. "We all have agreed that we should try to stay sharp," he said.
"It's going to be hard for the linemen to do much without pads, but we can get a lot accomplished with the passing game. I would expect most players to show up."
After two exhausting days in New York as part of the union's bargaining committee, Murphy returned to Washington yesterday still convinced that the owners want to "wait for three weeks, at least, to see how strong we are and whether we can keep things together. If we show we have solidarity, then they'll begin serious negotiations after that.
"I know that could mean a month or more. I hope I'm wrong, but it just seems to me that they want to break the union, that's their primary goal, along with breaking Ed Garvey."
The Redskins players say they are so confident of their own team unity that apparently there will be no pickets at Redskin Park. Murphy said he didn't think any player would report for the normal morning meetings today.
Coach Joe Gibbs and General Manager Bobby Beathard said they weren't sure what they would do if a player called and told them he wanted to come in and continue playing.
"I'd have to talk to Management Council but I don't think it will happen," Beathard said. "Our team seems to be pretty united. Now what happens in a week or two, I'm not sure."
Gibbs: "Obviously, it would be hard to do much with one or two players. But that's something we'd have to deal with if it came up."
As Gibbs sat in his office chair, obviously depressed, he admitted it was difficult to concentrate on formulating a game plan for Sunday's scheduled game against St. Louis. Within arm's reach was an NFC statistic sheet that reflected what his team had accomplished after the season's first two weeks: Joe Theismann, first in passing; John Riggins, second in rushing; Mark Moseley, first in kicking points, and Charlie Brown, tied for most touchdowns.
"It's a mental discipline thing," he said. "You have to push yourself as hard as you can to get it done, but it's important. If the players come back, we need to have an edge. We need to be ready with our plan, whether it's for short-term preparation or for a regular work week."
His biggest worry now, besides possibly seeing two straight home games canceled?
"The condition of the players. They will be okay for awhile, but I'll get worried if I hear guys are leaving (the area) and not working. Word will filter back. It's self-discipline for them, too. It will be tough to push themselves, but they have to."
Meanwhile, callers phoned the park throughout the day, most to protest the strike and voice their support for management. A radio reporter wanted credentials for Sunday's game. The team's printer wanted to know if he should run off the game programs.
"Everyone wants to get this over as soon as possible," Beathard said. "But as far as what's happening, we don't know much more than anyone else. I'm just going about my normal routine. I'm going out on the road to scout, like I had scheduled. But geez, it's tough to feel optimistic about anything right now."