Quarterback Joe Theismann, one of nine Redskins announced yesterday as having agreed to appear in the initial National Football League Players Association all-star game, said he doubts he will play.
Although the NFLPA announced that all 80 athletes named to the teams for the all-star opener had made commitments to play, Theismann said he was not contacted until noon yesterday "and I'm still in the process of thinking about it. I'm leaning toward not playing, but maybe after I talk to enough guys, I'll change my mind and play. But right now, I don't think I will."
Other Redskins named to the NFC East team, scheduled to play against AFC East stars Sunday at 4 p.m. in RFK Stadium, are fullback John Riggins, defensive tackle Dave Butz, kick returner Mike Nelms, kicker Mark Moseley, guard Mark May, center Jeff Bostic, receiver Art Monk and tackle George Starke. Only one Dallas Cowboy, player representative Robert Newhouse, agreed to play.
In a related development yesterday, the second Sunday without NFL football, Ed Garvey, NFLPA executive director, said the lack of progress in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement has left him convinced the NFL is "out to bust the union and then set up a company union. They are looking at millions of dollars in cable television money down the road, so they are saying, 'Why not bust the union now?' "
Garvey said he is still reluctant to turn over the negotiations to a mediator, even though he has told the league he would consider that step if the NFL would send owners to the bargaining table.
"We wouldn't want a federal mediator, but we'd consider a private one," Garvey said. "But what they want to do is stop face-to-face negotiations and get a news blackout. I don't want to stop face-to-face negotiations. I want the players to continue to see how the league is operating in bargaining."
The all-star rosters include quarterbacks Richard Todd of the Jets, Steve Grogan of the Patriots and Neil Lomax of the Cardinals; running backs Ottis Anderson of the Cardinals and Wilbert Montgomery of the Eagles; guard John Hannah of the Patriots; linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the Giants; defensive end Mark Gastineau of the Jets and receiver Harold Carmichael of the Eagles.
Brig Owens of the NFLPA, acting as the commissioner of the all-star games, said that the Cowboys named to the NFC East team by a vote of their peers all refused to play, including Tony Dorsett, Randy White and Too Tall Jones. Newhouse is not even a starter for Dallas.
"Some are worried about the kind of pressure the club will put on them," Owens said. "Tex Schramm (Cowboys' president) is one of the toughest."
Of the Redskins named, Starke and Nelms said they would play and Moseley said he probably would. Butz said he had not been contacted and didn't know what he would do, although "if the insurance is like they say, I probably will do it." Other players could not be reached.
Redskin officials were upset about the prospect of their players participating, particularly because of the possibility of injuries and the fact that Dallas' stars declined. Owens said the players are insured under a Lloyds of London policy that, in case of a career-ending injury, would award one all the money still due him under terms of his player contract.
"I'm obviously concerned because of the injury situation," Washington Coach Joe Gibbs said. "It's their futures at stake and each guy is going to have to make a decision."
General Manager Bobby Beathard said, "There is a lot at stake here because of injuries. It doesn't make sense to risk a career. I guess the game needs guys who play in this town."
Nelms said he had no doubts. "No one likes to get hurt but we have insurance. You have to take risks when necessary if you think something is important. If they voted me on the team and we have enough to play, I'm certainly going to play. I wouldn't be surprised if the team (Redkins) tried to persuade me not to, but I'll just tell them how I feel."
The first practice for both teams is scheduled here Tuesday. Tickets, at $12, $10 and $8, will go on sale today, about the same time the NFLPA is to appear in court here to seek a ruling to prevent the NFL from blocking the games. On Wednesday, a court in Buffalo will hear a league-sponsored action to prohibit the Turner Broadcasting System, major backer of the all-star games, from doing any telecasts.
The NFL Management Council will meet today to consider, among other things, two major topics: the possibility of opening up practice facilities and inviting back any disgruntled players, and Garvey's statement about trading owners' participation in bargaining for possible NFLPA agreement to mediation.
Jack Donlan, the league's chief negotiator, said yesterday on NBC-TV that the council would seriously consider Garvey's proposal. But he also said the presence of owners would not change the league's bargaining position.
Sources said it was unlikely that the council would open camps at this time, since the union ranks appear pretty solid.
Garvey said he is firm in his belief that the NFL means to break the union, a feeling he said is "based on a lot of things, including the complete lack of respect they have for us in bargaining. It's awful in there. That's the part that baffles me, no one is being kept open to us, no one is being halfway decent anywhere in the league.
"They aren't ready to open camps yet, I don't think. But they'll do it in the next couple of weeks. Then they'll try to put games on. I suppose they might be able to, with scab players, but there will not be any NFL-caliber games this season without an agreement."
Said Theismann: "I've told any teammate I've talked to to get a job. This season could be over. It's that serious, and everyone better realize it."