The two teen-age girls stood outside the players' entrance at RFK Stadium yesterday. They stood in the rain, waiting to get autographs from Joe Theismann and Mark Moseley, waiting until someone told them there would be no Redskins game.
"I thought there was a game and we came to get autographs from Joe Theismann and Mark Moseley," said Zina James of Bladensburg, who traveled by bus with her friend, Lawanda Scott, to RFK. "Where are they? It's 12 o'clock, aren't they coming?"
The coach was at Redskin Park, watching a war movie on television. His sons wanted to lift weights. He was just glad to be doing something to relieve the frustration that has built up since the National Football League was struck by its players' union Tuesday.
But Joe Gibbs would rather have been at RFK, directing his team against St. Louis. Instead, he was alone in his office on this dreary, football-less Sunday in September. His only consolation was that, three weeks into the season, his Redskins still were undefeated.
The star quarterback was in New York, for a brief appearance on CBS-TV along with peers Ron Jaworski and Richard Todd. If he had been home, Joe Theismann said he probably would have played football with his children.
"But they never let me play quarterback," he said in a mock sulk.
The star kicker, a hero in both Redskin 1982 victories, was watching television.
"Not much on,is there?" Mark Moseley said. "This is odd, different. I tried to find Joe (Theismann) on television. Now I am just turning the stations.
"What is it? Almost 4? We'd have a good lead on St. Louis by now. We would be close to another win, a good win."
Guard Mark May looked as if he had played a game. His face was dominated by a large bandage that covers his nose
"With all this time, I decided to have my nose fixed," he said. "I broke it last year and then again earlier this year. Against Tampa Bay, it got chipped and I was having trouble breathing. Now it feels good, if not for these bandages."
Guard Russ Grimm was bored. He spent the afternoon shopping and was planning on attending a party last night.
"The first two days (of the strike) it felt different, like having two days off," he said. "Now it's boring. We should be playing, we shouldn't be sitting around. But the owners wanted to see how strong we (the union) was.
"I think it will get over soon. We are going to play next Sunday."
Linebacker Rich Milot wasn't that optimistic.
"Three or four weeks, that's how long I think this will last," he said. "After that, it would be hard to have a regular season and that wouldn't be good for either the owners or the players."
Milot spent part of yesterday driving back from Penn State, where he watched his alma mater beat Nebraska with a last-minute touchdown. Now he was trying to understand the intricacies of pro football, Canadian style.
"Everytime they go in motion before the snap, I want to call a penalty," Milot said with a laugh.
Linebacker Neal Olkewicz sat in his living room, reading a newspaper. The replay of the last Super Bowl could be heard in the background.
"This feels strange," said Olkewicz, the Redskin who probably thrives most on contact. "You gear yourself for it, because we knew there wouldn't be a game. But it is still strange."
In Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported that thousands of Steeler fans, many wearing the team's black and gold colors, jammed a Three Rivers Stadium parking lot for a giant tailgate party.
Some fans had arrived Saturday night. The rest came yesterday despite a steady rain. Despite banners urging the players to get back to work, the fans cheered fullback Franco Harris when he made an appearance.
In Minneapolis, Paul Zech of a local Holiday Inn had $15,000 of food and liquor in stock for Viking fans--and few patrons to serve. The mother of tight end Joe Senser flew in from Philadelphia to watch her son play yesterday. Instead, she was taken on a tour of the Twin Cities.
At Ledo's Resturant, a popular sports hangout near the University of Maryland, it was business as usual. Those in the crowded bar watched a tape of the Virginia-Duke game on television, then switched to the Baltimore Orioles game.
Outside the Super Bowl Pub in Wheaton, a big sign proclaimed it "Black Sunday". Inside, the bartenders and members of the saloon's touch football team wore black ribbons.
"We usually fill up a 72-seat bus for Redskins games," owner Jimmy Halsey said. "At first, I thought it was bad for business not to have football, but I walked in here and the place is packed. All the people stayed here instead of going to the game.
"Most of my customers (who also were watching the Orioles game) aren't too upset about the strike," Halsey said. "They think it's a one-week deal. But if the players stay out for two or three weeks, the fan reaction could get nasty."
While business was good in the suburbs, it was dying downtown. The Beowulf, on 20th Street NW, usually opens at 11 a.m. on Redskin Sundays and runs two buses to the games, Yesterday, it didn't open until 7 p.m.
"It cost us easily $1,000," part-owner John Petrone said. "We usually do a good brunch before the game and then have two busloads come back afterward."
"This is the worst," Dennis Brown, owner of Baker Brown, said. "The place is empty, even with Baseball Bill behind the bar. We're usually packed from 4 o'clock on."
The temperature at kickoff time yesterday was 62 degrees. It was raining at RFK.
"I would have loved to have gotten wet today," kick returner Mike Nelms said.
Near the players gate, there was a sign that read: "Public law D.C.-2-37 prohibits bringing of callers, cans or glass containers into the stadium."
Someone using a magic marker had added two words to the list of banned items.
"And players," the sign now reads.
(Also contributing to this story were staff writers Steve Hershey and David DuPree).