He hasn't had a full day off from either football or player-union affairs since early February. He always seems to be either giving an interview, answering teammates' labor questions or, lately, watching films of the Redskins' next opponent. The only way he was able to catch up on badly needed sleep last week was to take his phone off the hook two straight nights.
But Mark Murphy has lost none of his drive or his enthusiasm as a negotiator for the players' union. No, he isn't satisfied with the still-unratified collective-bargaining agreement. Yes, he sometimes gets frustrated and depressed, but not for long.
And if he is an active player in 1986, when this pending contract expires, he says he would be interested in a negotiator's role again. Nor would he rule out seeking the union's presidency if he thought he would last 10 years as a Redskin.
Murphy seemingly would be an ideal NFLPA president. He is intelligent, articulate, experienced, fiercely loyal to the union and well-respected by both his peers and management, even after the bitter negotiations. Usually, he managed to maintain what he calls "my perspective." He was able to joke about mistakes on both sides and, except for an occasional slip, to keep outlandish rhetoric to a minimum.
"Being union president has parts that are appealing," said Murphy, who is 27 and in his sixth pro season. "But Gene Upshaw (the current president) was away from home eight straight weeks at the end of the negotiations. Laurie (Murphy's wife) and I would have to take a long, hard look at it."
Ironically, one of the reasons Murphy, as the Redskins' player representative, voted against the proposed agreement was that he believes the contract's duration is too long. He says too many players who have been involved in this strike will be out of the league by 1986, and newcomers won't fully realize the sacrifices that were made to obtain this pact.
"We need to profit by our experience," Murphy said. "I've thought a lot the last week about the whole negotiation process. This is not over yet, so it may be premature to be too detailed, but there are things we should do differently next time."
And what should the union do differently?
"The players will have to realize that if we go out on strike again, it could mean the loss of a full season," Murphy said. "I don't think this time they were willing to risk that. But that's the commitment the union needs to be most effective. Everyone thought it would be only three or four weeks. The players have to go out and get another job right away.
"We have to consider a strike fund. It means a sacrifice in that dues would have to be increased, but not having a strike fund, or at least a mechanism set up where we knew we could get player loans, hurt.
"We need to know the language of the owners' television contract. We got an NLRB ruling this time to force them to show us, but they still didn't. We didn't know that the networks would continue to pay the owners even if we went out on strike; Ed (Garvey) didn't even know that. The network money served as a strike fund for the owners. If we had known the money was coming, we would have known the strike was going to last longer than we expected."
Murphy also has thought deeply about the union's initial quest for 55 percent of the owners' gross income, a stand the NFLPA abandoned just before the strike after a two-year-plus campaign. He still maintains it was a valid issue and not a flawed tactic.
"If we had asked, let's say, for an improved free-agency system and arbitration, that wasn't something most players could look at and see what it really meant to them in terms of more money," Murphy said. "With percentage of the gross, they could see the numbers. It gave them something definite and concrete. It created solidarity. And that solidarity was the main reason we got players to strike eight weeks.
"I was one of the representatives that voted to come off percentage of the gross because I didn't think a majority of players thought that, by striking, we could obtain a percentage. We left the wage scale and the central fund and everything else in, but we stopped talking about percentage of the gross."
Murphy realizes that he was a leading union spokesman for percentage of the gross, for a central fund, for a share of television revenues and, finally, for the idea that the Super Bowl date this season could be moved. None of those concepts survived, but he says: "I think the players know fully well that it would be difficult to get anything from the owners. They knew I was giving them my opinion, based on what I thought was correct. We had five negotiating points and we really didn't meet any of them, which is one reason I'm not happy with the contract.
"I knew the negotiations would be tough, but I didn't realize just how tough. It was worse than I had ever anticipated. We made progress, we got some good things and it got to a point where we all felt the players had to have a chance to vote on it. I have to think we got more than the owners wanted to give us."
Murphy, however, says he will resign soon as the Redskins' player representative, although he will serve out his final year as a member of the union's executive committee. He believes his teammates will profit by hearing "more than one opinion" on union matters.
"You have to keep things in perspective," he said. "The world wasn't going to end if we didn't get everything we wanted. I tried to do the best job I could; we all did, but football is not the end-all. The world will go on, regardless. If I didn't believe that, I don't know how I would have lived with the stress the last few months."