In an attempt to negate the problems that have faced previous inexperienced Super Bowl participants, Coach Joe Gibbs has instituted a low-key, enjoy-yourself approach with the Redskins, including no curfew until this weekend.
"He has treated us like men all year and he sees no reason to change now," safety Mark Murphy said today amid the Redskins' first exposure to the blanket media coverage that accompanies every Super Bowl. "That's why he has no curfew. He told us he'd like us to be in around midnight, but it's not a formal rule. I think his approach is the right one. We should enjoy this."
Gibbs has told his players that this week serves as a reward for what they have done this season. He refuses to make judgments about the season based on a possible Super Bowl loss.
"I think this is good for the team," halfback Joe Washington said about the mass interview session. "If you needed to get pinched about being at the Super Bowl, this will pinch you. It will get your mind off Dallas and onto this week. Besides, these players deserve the recognition they are getting. Everyone finally is getting some publicity."
The Redskins seem well-prepared to handle Super Bowl pressures. After all, this is the team of the Hogs, the Fun Bunch and the Smurfs--a nickname for almost every player. There are pranksters and practical jokers galore, and veterans like George Starke, Murphy and Neal Olkewicz who hand out ego-shattering barbs at every opportunity.
"A loose bunch," Gibbs calls them.
Murphy said when he joined the Redskins in 1977, there still were enough members of the 1972 Super Bowl team left "that they gave me an idea of what went wrong that season. They said they left their Super Bowl game in RFK, against Dallas, and had nothing left for Miami. And they said everyone got caught up in the hype and fought it. We aren't going to make that mistake."
Receiver Charlie Brown: "This is fun. I think it's great that we are getting this kind of attention. We've earned it. I don't see anyone on this team fighting the schedule this week. We're going to try to enjoy it."
The Redskins look at this week as a chance to remove the "no" from their no-name reputations. Today, they clearly were enjoying themselves.
While his teammates were being interviewed, Brown was trying to operate a newly purchased camera. He finally got it to work in time to take a picture of fullback Otis Wonsley. Safety Tony Peters was walking around with a videotape camera, shooting Redskins being surrounded by inquisitive reporters at the team's week-long practice site, Los Angeles Rams Park.
"Joe Theismann and Jeris (White) already have told me they want copies," Peters said. "I figured you never know when you are getting back, so you might as well make the most of it. I want to be able to remember this as long as I can."
The Redskins will follow the same routine through Saturday: interviews in the morning, bus from their hotel here to Rams Park, eat lunch, go to meetings and practice. Players are given meal money for breakfast and dinner; their nights are free.
In standard Super Bowl procedure, practices are closed to the public and press. But it also is what Gibbs wants: a private, businesslike atmosphere so the team can get its mind on Miami.
The most detailed work will be done Wednesday and Thursday, the Redskins' usual long-practice days. Interviews are scheduled for early morning, freeing most of the day for game preparation.
"There still is talk about the Dallas game, and there should be, because we should remember that game for a long time," said Washington about the Redskins' 31-17 victory Saturday for the NFC title. "But this game is more important by five times over. We just need to stay at the same level that we had for Dallas and even make it better. I think you'll see everyone prepare thoroughly."
Dan Henning, the Redskins' offensive coordinator, confirmed speculation he is being considered to fill head coaching vacancies in the National Football League. "I have been approached by two teams," Henning said without naming names . . . It rained heavily in Southern California Monday but was in the 70s today. Long-range forecasts for Sunday mention rain prominently. The grass field at the Rose Bowl, site of Super Bowl XVII, is covered. The field is being cared for by George Toma, the Kansas City Royals' groundskeeper who is considered the best in the business . . . Mass media interviews are cut off after Thursday, although Gibbs and Miami Coach Don Shula will hold press conferences Friday . . . Owner Jack Kent Cooke of the Redskins was staying at a hotel in Bel Air, but decided today to move into the team hotel, along with a large group of friends. The result was a scramble by team officials and hotel representatives to clear enough rooms to house his entire party . . . Players on injured reserve such as Ron Saul, Brad Dusek and Art Monk made the trip . . . Monk, who suffered a fractured bone in his foot in the last game of the regular season, is walking without aid of crutches or a cane. He still is limping noticeably . . . Short season or not, brokers are demanding a premium for the best Super Bowl tickets. Going price for a $40 seat between the 30-yard lines: $350 to $500.