This is one week that John Bunting is especially happy to be returning to Washington. First, because he grew up there, becoming an all-Metropolitan linebacker at Springbrook High School. Second, because playing at RFK Stadium means the Philadelphia Eagles' fans will be shouting at their television sets and not at him.
Bunting, the Eagles' player representative, became so upset with the abuse after Sunday's 18-14 loss to Cincinnati that he sent his two children home with a friend, rather than accompany them himself.
"Suppose they throw a bottle at me and it hits one of the kids," Bunting said. "They were talking about that and a lot of other violent things. And they were calling me some vicious names. I don't think any children should have to be exposed to that.
"I recognize the difference between booing and violence. I've played 11 years in Philadelphia. You think I haven't been booed? The fans are mad, they're angry, that's okay. But there's got to be a limit. After all, it is just a game.
"That's the first time in my career I felt a real need to go out and see that my two children are escorted out of the stadium because I fear for their safety. I'm not saying 65,000 people acted like that. It was a very small contingent, but they were there. I think it's important for them to know that they're capable of putting fear in somebody. All it takes is one idiot, and there were a few out there."
Bunting was not especially pleased with the local media's reporting of Sunday's game, either. The play of the two teams was widely derided, and the Philadelphia Inquirer published Tuesday an editorial headlined "Amateur Hour at Pro Prices," in which it made fun of the teams' mistakes and said the Eagles "would have looked rusty at an Old Timer's Day game."
"That may not have been a pretty game," Bunting said, "but it was a physical game. Each team had four turnovers. Is that so unusual? You can have that in a Super Bowl. I'm not saying the football was up to the quality it would be after six weeks of training camp, but I thought it was pretty good.
"I think all the media did was dust off the stories from the end of the baseball strike and run them again. I think the stuff that was written was a real sham on the public."
Even at 32, Bunting still claims that playing in RFK Stadium gets the adrenaline flowing.
"I always enjoy going back to Washington," he said. "I'm very excited about playing there. The Redskins are really doing good things and (Joe) Theismann has to be playing remarkably well, not to have thrown an interception."
While Bunting will be making his 120th start for the Eagles as the left outside linebacker, Eastern High graduate Al Chesley has dropped to No. 2 left inside linebacker behind Jerry Robinson.
"I came back after the 57-day strike and found I was a victim of circumstances," said Chesley, who had started 19 straight games before Sunday. "The first day I heard it, I said, 'Play me or trade me,' but that's in the past now. I still say, 'Play me,' but Coach (Dick) Vermeil is a good coach and I have to respect his decision. I'm not that good I can't sit on the bench, even though I may think so."
Chesley was able to find humor in his situation, as he returns to the stadium a few blocks from where he grew up on Potomac Avenue.
"When I was a kid, I could hear the noise from the games at my house," he said. "I never missed a baseball game, but football tickets cost too much and there was no way I could get the money for one.
"Sometimes Larry Brown or Charley Taylor gave me tickets. Other times, I'd try to climb the fence. I'd either succeed or find a policeman waiting with a dog. At least this time, I have a front-row seat."
Tailback Wilbert Montgomery, whose ribs were bruised Sunday, did not practice today and Vermeil said he was "questionable" for the Washington game. Also absent was offensive tackle Jerry Sisemore, who was sick . . . "The tempo and intensity today were as different as night and day from last Wednesday," Vermeil said . . . He said reports of the crowd's sorry behavior Sunday were "exaggerated." But added, "I've never before heard them boo Wilbert Montgomery for fumbling.