Mark Murphy, the Redskins player representative and a players' union negotiator, predicted yesterday that his teammates would vote next week to reject the tentative contract settlement with the National Football League.
But he said the contract would be ratified league-wide, although the vote would be "very close."
"This is basically the same proposal that we (the Redskins) turned down Friday, so there is really no reason for me to think it won't be turned down again," said Murphy after the team's initial poststrike practice at Redskin Park.
"I'd like to have come back with a better contract, but we couldn't get the owners to negotiate. It's just too bad that other teams in the league weren't as solid as the Redskins. If they were, we would be voting on a better contract."
Murphy said that if the contract is turned down league-wide, the union would have three alternatives: keep playing and continue bargaining, keep playing and go to binding arbitration, or take another strike vote.
Asked if he thought the players would resume the strike, he said: "I think the threat of the strike would force them (owners) to bargain . . .But it's hard to say if they would leave again. However, if you get only a few teams that are unhappy and walk out, it screws everything up.
"My guess would be that the contract will be approved league-wide, but it could go either way. If it is approved, it will be very, very close . . . What hurt us was teams voting in principle to approve the owners' proposal. From then on, you couldn't get the owners to budge."
A number of Redskins interviewed yesterday said they doubted the strike would be resumed, even if the contract was turned down,.
"I think we are back, I don't think we'll walk out again," linebacker Mel Kaufman said. "But I don't know how we'll vote on the contract itself. We all would like to see it first before making up our minds."
Defensive tackle Perry Brooks: "No one wanted the strike to go this long and to get back is super. No one can afford to lose the whole season. The bills come in and there are no paychecks coming in."
Defensive end Dexter Manley: "I don't know whether to be happy or not. I'm not sure how much longer we'll keep playing."
Halfback Joe Washington: "If there aren't that many changes from Friday, I don't see us approving it. Why should we? But our team won't be the deciding factor. Teams will pass it league-wide."
There was considerable discussion in the locker room after practice about the contract proposal, particularly between Murphy and quarterback Joe Theismann.
"He'd like me to keep my opinions to myself," Murphy said. "I want to let them vote without my influence but I still have to answer questions and I will. We made some gains in the contract, but you have to keep it in prespective. We came from a bad contract and we laid a foundation for the next one. But we got to a point where players were afraid the season was going to be lost, so you take what you have."
The unsettled contract situation overshadowed what otherwise was a happy day at Redskin Park as the team worked out with the coaching staff present for the first time in eight weeks.
Every Redskin except Monte Coleman and Wilbur Jackson showed up, although Todd Liebenstein and Gary Puetz didn't arrive in time to practice. Fullback John Riggins appeared midway through the workout. He said he had been deer hunting.
"I was happy with the fact almost everyone showed up," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "They had enthusiasm but they were rusty. By and large, I thought they were in pretty good shape. A couple of guys had put on some weight, but in some cases that's not bad. They could use the extra pounds."
Gibbs also was encouraged by the running of Washington, who underwent knee surgery before the season began. A decision about his status for Sunday's game against the New York Giants won't be made until Friday or Saturday. The league ruled yesterday that players who started the strike on inseason injured reserve, including Washington and Jackson, now can be activated.
"I want Joe to tell me . . . he can go all out, that it feels 100 percent," Gibbs said.
"I was happy with the way it felt," Washington said, "but this was the first time I've done anything like this with it since the operation. I want to wait a few days to see how it feels before I make any decicions. I want to play, but I won't if it's not right."
The length of the strike aided Washington's recovery. At one point, the Redskins thought he would miss six or more weeks, then they revised that estimate to four weeks or less. Yesterday, he said that after five weeks, he was "not even close to being ready to play."
"The longer the strike went, the closer I knew I would be to playing," he said. "I kept saying, 'one more week, one more week.' I worked the dickens out of the knee too, and it wasn't in good shape after five weeks. With outside cartilage and ligament damage, it just didn't come back very fast. I was getting very dejected.
"I'm still starting from zero and that makes a big difference. I haven't played a game this year and I'm coming off surgery. It's a different story for me than anyone else."
Gibbs worked the team for almost 2 1/2 hours before darkness ended the practice. The Redskins will not have any extra workouts but will extend their normal sessions all week . . . Defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon agreed with Gibbs that the players looked rusty "but they were very eager." graphics 1-3: Photos by Richard Darcey--TWP On Day 1 of the rest of the NFL season, there were lots of smiles at Redskin Park. For Art Monk (bottom left) and Charlie Brown (top left), even calisthenics were fun. Joe Washington, who began the strike on an injured list, worked out and may be ready for Sunday's game with the Giants.