If Mark Moseley had been kicking yesterday for the Washington Redskins, he now would be the talk of the town.
Instead, he was a hero mostly to his NFC East teammates, who collected an extra $500 because Moseley's 45-yard field goal with 61 seconds left beat the AFC East, 23-22, at RFK Stadium in the first National Football League Players Association all-star game. The winners got $3,000 each, the losers $2,500.
A gathering of 8,760 turned out for the game, a financial disaster for the Turner Broadcasting System, which owned television rights, and for Sports Play Inc., which promoted the event.
Ted Turner, who owns TBS, said he lost at least a combined $800,000 on this game and a second to be played tonight in Los Angeles. The promoters, who had hoped for a crowd of 20,000, said they will lose $100,000 for each of the games. The union said it gave away 2,000 tickets to charity groups.
TBS pays the union $500,000 for each game. The NFLPA hopes that, after expenses, left-over profits can be distributed to striking players throughout the league.
The game appeal was hurt by lack of big-name players, including any elite quarterback or running back. Only nine past Pro Bowlers participated, outnumbered by 13 Redskins. Some of those who did play said they resented other striking players' having stayed away.
"We are players and we want to play and that's what we showed today," said Moseley, six for six on field goals in the Redskins' two 1982 games before making three more yesterday.
"It's just a shame more players don't decide to play. I'm disappointed also in the crowd," Moseley said. "I thought more Redskin fans would support the union and the players by turning out. They missed an exciting game."
Still, players and union officials maintained that the mere fact the game was played should be enough to hype attendance at future NFLPA games, planned for the duration of the strike against the NFL.
"You will see fans catching on," said fullback John Riggins. "And I'm sure a lot of players were sitting at home with a hollow feeling, wishing they had been here playing. You will see more guys coming in now. We showed it's not that hard to put together your own game. The more we play together, the better the games will get, too.
"I was out there at first trying to play it cozy. But you can't do that. You have to go as hard as you can and that's what guys were doing."
Said Brig Owens, the all-star game coordinator: "No one thought we could do this. The league tried to stop us in the courts and then they put pressure on the players not to play. It took guts for these guys to show up and play. I really admire them."
The teams played on the level of a decent NFL exhibition game. There were only three turnovers and few execution mistakes. The players had been practicing only since Wednesday and the NFC roster still was being patched as late as Saturday. Yet, there were several exciting plays, including successful passes of 48, 39 and 51 yards, and a fine finish.
"Maybe by the end of the game, when the intensity picked up, it was almost like an opening game of the season," said Philadelphia's Dennis Harrison. "Nobody got hurt, that's important. And everyone was trying and having a good time."
Moseley had a delightful time.
"It just shows you that you can be a hero even when you are having fun," said Moseley, who has been practicing at home by kicking into a pair of movers' blankets on his patio. Besides his winning share, Moseley received an antique clock for being offensive player of the game.
With such limited practice time, both teams had problems running. So they passed 75 times, for 592 yards and all five touchdowns. The most spectacular plays were a 51-yard completion from AFC quarterback Steve Grogan to New England teammate Stanley Morgan and a 61-yard throw from Don Strock (Miami) to Ray Butler (Baltimore).
The AFC led, 12-10, at the half, Baltimore's Mike Wood having missed two extra points, and was ahead, 22-17, in the third quarter after Butler's reception. A 39-yard Moseley field goal closed the spread to three early in the fourth period, and the NFC blocked a field goal try of 27 yards by Wood to get a chance to win.
The NFC moved from its 14 to set up Moseley's final kick. Quarterback Bob Avellini (Chicago) completed four passes, including a 22-yarder to Redskin Clarence Harmon, during the drive.
"Mark made a hell of a kick," said Avellini. "I thought we would have to get 10 yards closer. But I was just surprised everything went as well as it did today, considering how little we practiced. Heck, we didn't even have a two-minute drill. But I thought we put on a pretty good show."
Even after Moseley's kick, the Redskin players weren't finished. Linebacker Mel Kaufman, who joined the NFC Saturday, intercepted a Strock pass to end any AFC comeback hopes.
"It felt funny at first being out there," Kaufman said. "But at the end, I was really liking it a lot."