He is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 222 pounds. He is 25.95 years old and will be out of the job of his choice after 4.2 years.
He is the average National Football League player. He will earn about $94,000 this year, according to the players association ($104,000 according to the NFL Management Council). Each year he plays, there is a 25 percent chance he will lose his job.
The average NFL football player is not a very secure human being.
If he is a defensive lineman his neck is 18.1 inches in circumference, the Cowboys' computer says. If he is a running back, he bench presses 320 pounds. If he is a quarterback, he has 10 percent body fat.
A computer can describe him but few people know or recognize him. Uniforms are as standardized as the bodies that fill them. "Mike Thomas leaves, there's another No. 22," said former Redskin Jean Fugett. "Jean Fugett leaves, there's another 84."
Injuries and economics conspire against longevity. Built-in obsolescence is a fact of life in football. "You are an interchangeable part in the game," said former Redskin Dallas Hickman. "When someone goes down--snap--he's replaced."
And so, the average football player is on strike, looking for security in a business that denies it. "If you are the average player in the NFL you are very insecure," said Rusty Tillman, former Redskin, now a special teams coach at Seattle. "You're constantly having to prove yourself over and over again."
Most athletes, he says, "like the fact that they have to keep proving themselves because it reinforces who they are."
But the average player faces an unnerving paradox. "As a coach, you don't want the insecure ones," said Tillman. "You want the ones who believe in themselves. But everyone is insecure because they always feel management is trying to replace them."
"This could cause a very schizophrenic individual," said Lou Piccone, the player representative of the Buffalo Bills.
Nick Giaquinto, a Redskin running back, says, "I think you've got to be a little nuts to play in the NFL. There's no other job in the world where you can go out and go crazy on people and not worry about getting shot or knifed."
Giaquinto's four-year odyssey into the NFL may be far from the norm but he, like Piccone, has the uncomputed asset necessary to survive. "I am a secure man in an insecure business," Giaquinto said.
Giaquinto was a free agent from the University of Connecticut, which is hardly a football factory. Four times he tried out (twice in Canada), four times he didn't make the team. Once he and a friend drove to Toronto for a tryout: "They kept him. I ended up hitchhiking home."
He played semipro ball for the Eastern Connecticut Sea Raiders and earned $50 a game, $100 for postseason games. He painted houses, waited tables, coached at the University of New Haven, taught gym in elementary school, never earning more than $10,000 a year, never giving up the idea he could play pro football.
In the fall of 1979, he moved to Fort Lauderdale and called Dan Henning, the Redskins' assistant coach, who was then with the Dolphins. He was invited to a tryout, then mini-camp, and regular camp. One day in September 1980, he said, "I was sitting in the whirlpool and (Coach Don) Shula comes in and goes, 'We decided we're going to keep you. But we're going to keep evaluating you.' It was like, you're here now but don't get too comfortable in the whirlpool, kid."
That year he earned $36,000, including a $5,000 bonus for making the team. In 1981, the average rookie running back earned $59,791.
The next spring, Giaquinto said, the Dolphins drafted "three running backs in the first five rounds, and I said, 'uh oh.' "
He was the last man cut during the 1981 training camp. He understood: a matter of numbers. He was grateful to Shula for giving him a chance.
Then someone got injured and he was recalled. When another running back was ready to come off injured reserve, "It was like, we don't know if we're gonna keep you. I'd go the whole week not knowing if I was going to be there. On Saturday, they said, 'Yeah, we're keeping you.' "
After the eighth game, he was put on waivers and signed by the Redskins. "I knew I could play in the NFL," he said. "You think you know and then you know, you know?"
Statistically, Amos Fowler, the starting center, and alternate player representative of the Detroit Lions, is the average man.
He is 26, 6-feet-3, 250 pounds (one inch and five pounds shy of the Cowboys' projected norm), was drafted in the fifth round and is playing in his fifth year. He earns just about the league average salary. "The hatchet can come anytime," he said. "You have to prepare for it everyday. That's the reason I got an education."
In that way, he is far from average. Only 29 percent of the players in the league this year have college degrees, down from 35 percent last year. There is not much security in those statistics, either.
According to Michael Duberstein, director of research for the players association, 33 percent of NFL players earn less than $50,000 and less than that made over $80,000. Forty percent of the players were drafted in the first three rounds of the draft; 44 percent from the fourth round on. Sixteen percent are free agents, the same number as first-round players.
A first-round player in 1981 earned 52 percent more than a free agent, 50 percent more than an eighth-round draft choice, 36 percent more than a fourth-round draft choice.
"They have a pay scale," Piccone said.
"Whatever you start at, you make a slow rise in pay," he explained. "Just about the time you're ready to retire, you make some money, if you make it that long."
In that way, if no other, Piccone is average. He was a 5-feet-9, 175-pound, free agent from West Liberty State. "If you put me in a computer, I don't come out," he said.
Now, in his ninth year, he makes a little more than league average. His first year with the Jets, he earned $19,000, including bonuses, and led the league in yards gained in kickoffs and number of returns. The next year, he says, they offered him a $1,000 raise. He told them "to stuff it."
He returned and played for less money. For one preseason game, he said, he got a game check for $25.38. For most players who are not high-round draft picks, he says, "They get the most out of you. You'll get the least out of them."
Brad Dusek, a linebacker for the Redskins, has also lasted nine years, twice the norm. His teammates call him scarecrow because of he's been patched up so many times.
"I'll tell you a norm," said Dusek, who was placed on injured reserve after the last exhibition game. "You're gonna get injured and you're gonna get cut."
Dusek has a chronically sore left hamstring, an atrophied left calf, a surgically repaired back, two broken hands that eventually will require surgery, a shoulder still sore from a separation last year.
"It's the risk you take," he said. "You feel good now. If you ask, 'would I do it over again?' Right now, I'd say, 'Yeah, I had a ball.' If I can't walk in 10 years I might change my mind."
Dusek does not know whether he will play again. "You can only take so many beatings," he says.
Only 17 percent play eight or more years. One morning at 6 o'clock during training camp last year, Hickman, then the Redskins' special teams captain and a seven-year veteran, heard a voice say, "Coach Gibbs would like to see you. . . Bring your playbook." He was released.
He went to Baltimore, where he took a 50 percent reduction in salary, and was cut one morning while watching films of the game they had just played against the Redskins. The Redskins re-signed him at his previous salary ("they treated me with class"). This year, he was cut again. The next day, his father died, without knowing what happened. "His boy was still a football player," Hickman said.
It put things in perspective, showed him "what's real," he said.
"I talk to guys who are out three or four years and they hear about another opportunity like the USFL and they're thinking about coming out. I wouldn't want to be like that."
He says he wants to be able to explain to his son someday that yes, he was cut, but life went on.