This has not yet been etched in stone, and you know how frail stone can be in the hands of National Football League players. But the parochial bottom line of the longest, costliest and, until the basketball guys go out, dumbest strike in the history of sports has the Redskins in great shape for the playoffs.
Sorry, Joe Gibbs. You've been more frustrated than any of us over what amounts to half a season of inactivity, but the familiar pressure might as well come a few hours after that tentative settlement reached last night. With seven games left, four of them at home, your Redskins seem to have a two-game lead on five teams and a one-game lead on six more.
Eight teams in each conference make the playoffs.
The qualifier, that dratted seem, is necessary because tie-breaker procedures are not available. Probably, there will be ties, because only six of the 14 teams in each conference don't get to the playoffs. To be safe, just run it up on everybody. Even if you have a 30-point lead with 30 seconds left let the field goal kicker, and if memory serves it's still Mark Moseley, take a whack at anything possible.
Another thing: save those game plans you've been working on each of the lost eight weeks. One of them will come in handy after all, for a game among those missed will be rescheduled. According to the NFL, it will be played at RFK Stadium. An educated guess is that the opponent will be either the Cardinals, 49ers or Vikings, because the emphasis will be on conference play.
Because of the one already scheduled here Dec. 5, it is unlikely the other Dallas game will be played. Tex Schramm, Cowboys president, surely would nix any attempt to play both Redskins games on the road. That should please you. It's another of the endless irritations for those who simply want to see quality football.
The next folly will be Sunday, when the games are resumed. They will not be quite so sorry as the farces the players foisted on us Oct. 17 and 18; neither will they be worth the price of admission, for none of the 1,500 players has kept monk-like devotion to his craft.
They might be in wonderful physical condition, but not in decent -- perhaps even safe -- football shape. That would require hitting, and being hit, regularly, and not even the most mindless striker would risk a lengthy injury for nothing.
Expect a game somewhat tougher than touch, but not as rugged as Maryland-North Carolina. Expect Gene Upshaw to have negotiated better the last week than he will play the next. Early reports indicate he and the players lost the bargaining game.
That seemed inevitable when the National Labor Relations Board refused the union's request to cite the league for bargaining in bad faith. Paul Martha, go-between in the final hectic hours, said the tentative contract totals $1.28 billion for four years. Management was offering $1.6 billion for five nearly two months ago.
"I am happy and elated," said the owners' man, Jack Donlan.
But enough money Xs and Os. Our minds already are too cluttered with that. What about the onfield ramifications of the alleged agreement? Which teams have been the luckiest, the ones the football gods seem to have touched?
The 2-0 Redskins surely are one such team.
Joe Washington, injured way back when the Dow was close to 900, apparently is mended. Or will be available for most of the stretch run, this sprint-car race of a season, if not Sunday against the Giants in the Meadowlands. Instead of playing much of the season without him, Gibbs will have him for almost all of it.
Also, the Redskins will be avoiding rugged road games in Dallas and Cincinnati. Still, any Redskin season that has the home opener three days after Thanksgiving will be memorable for the wrong reasons.
NFL thinkers very likely have been about as sensible as possible in seeing the season to its conclusion. Giving extraordinary weight to the playoffs seems reasonable, because the regular season stopped being credible long ago.
Pete Rozelle said that even before the truce.
"I used to say," the commissioner said, "that it would take 13 games, certainly no less than 12, to make a credible season. Now we're down to no more than 10, and I still feel the way I did before. We are far from a credible season now."
In an ideal world, the owners and players would chuck the regular season entirely and begin the playoffs Sunday. They would arrange some sort of double-elimination tournament that would give every team a playoff spot. Because the strike was unfair to everybody, everybody would have a chance at the Super Bowl.
Records until now would count.
The playoffs would start immediately, with a shotgun start.
What reality offers is watered-down games. Just when the country was kicking its NFL habit; just when we were adjusting nicely to no Redskins each weekend; just when we were realizing the NFL was okay but not one of the necessities of life, like railroads and pretzels.