There was a sprain of Fred Dean's right ankle and a possible fracture of his ego today as he began his U.S. Football League career tangled in a heap of hurtin'.
"Two guys fell on me in the second quarter, hit my knee and twisted my ankle. Plus, I gave up two sacks. How did I play? Terrible," said Dean.
Such was the wrath of the Chicago Blitz today, who treated Dean and his new Tampa Bay Bandits teammates like a so many nomads, routing the Bandits, 31-8, before 21,249 in the 90-degree heat at Soldier Field. Chicago's Tim Spencer ran for three touchdowns, leaving both teams 10-5 and tied for first in the USFL Central Division.
When it was over, Fred Dean, an offensive lineman who spent the last five years as a member of the Washington Redskins and who started with the other Hogs in the Super Bowl victory, said he knows there are no guarantees in life.
But there are in contracts, even if the Redskins wouldn't give him one. The Bandits would, for three years, so Dean, 28, left the Redskins for a new league and a new beginning in his professional football career.
"You have got to be your own man and make your own decisions," said Dean. "The guarantee that Tampa Bay offered me was the ultimate. They guaranteed all three years and the Redskins wouldn't guarantee anything. Bobby Beathard (Redskins' general manager) told my agent that I might not even make the Redskins this year.
"I have a lot of friends in Washington. But I started thinking what if I stay with the Redskins and I get cut? Then, Fred Dean is back on the streets. What would he do?"
A Super Bowl bag rested at Dean's feet. He tugged on his gold chain that read "63," his number on the Redskins. Now, he wears Bandits' No. 77.
"I'll get my old number back next year. I just don't want to disrupt anything now," Dean said.
George Allen, former Redskins coach and the current Blitz coach, spent the afternoon on one sideline today and Jim Gould, a former Washington Federals' president who recently became the executive vice president of the Bandits, sat in the press box.
But Fred Dean said he didn't think about Washington once. He couldn't.
"I was just worrying about blocking my man. I only had a week to prepare. I'm not in condition yet," he said. "Washington is just a bunch of memories now."
Last Sunday, Fred Dean appeared on the halftime show of a USFL regional telecast. He was wearing a Hogs T-shirt and a Redskins' cap, but he replaced the Redskins' cap with a Bandits' cap and said he was changing leagues.
Washington's reaction to Dean's departure, which represented the Redskins' first loss since Dallas defeated them, 24-10, in a regular-season game last Dec. 5, has evolved into feelings of disappointment and remorse. The Redskins aren't used to losing now.
The loss of Dean, who was injured several times in his tenure with the Redskins and started just three of the nine games he played last year, is hardly crushing to the Redskins. But it is symbolic of change and the need to bolster an offensive line that management wanted to keep intact and productive.
And when you are the Super Bowl champion, change isn't what you're looking for.
"We don't want to lose anyone from the machine," said Mark May. "What does it mean? It means we have to replace Fred with someone less experienced. It's a real letdown."
"I want to set the record straight," Coach Joe Gibbs said sternly, pointedly. "I heard some comments that the Redskins didn't do a good job of trying to keep Fred Dean. Hey, we talked to him as hard as anybody. We made a real bona fide effort. We just lost him."
Here's why: it was learned that Washington offered Dean a three-year contract, starting at $120,000 and increasing by increments over the following two years, along with a $5,000 signing bonus and another bonus (based on how many games Dean played) that could have reached an additional $10,000.
Tampa Bay offered Dean a three-year graduated contract worth what one team official said was slightly more than what the Redskins had offered plus a $50,000 signing bonus. The Bandits also offered Dean $7,000 per game to finish off this season.
The overriding factor for Dean was that Tampa Bay agreed to guarantee percentages of Dean's contract for all three years. The Redskins, as a policy, do not.
"I'm sure if the Redskins had guaranteed some of the money, made some commitment," said Tom Bland, Bandits director of football operations, "that Fred would not be here today. As far as we're concerned, he's a heaven send."
"I tried to tell Fred," Gibbs said, " 'You started on the Super Bowl team. What's the insecurity? What's the problem?' I told him we don't give out no-cut contracts because we want everybody to earn a spot.
"I don't know whether the money right now appealed to him--grab a fast 50,000 bucks--or because he was living in Florida or whether it was the guaranteed contract. It was just something in Fred Dean that told him he wanted to leave. But when everything is said and done, I think our offer was the better one."
Joe Bugel, Redskins offensive line coach, added, "I don't think Fred took enough time to measure what he was throwing away . . . To me, Freddie was guaranteed here because he was a starter. That's the only guarantee I need . . . If there is one thing that disturbs, it is that I expect more loyalty. We dish out a lot of loyalty to our people. "
Bobby Beathard, who handled the contract negotiations with Dean's agent Spencer Kopf, said, "I told Fred he would have to compete for the job. You see the problem is Fred Dean is not a 16-game player. He has had problems staying healthy."
Fred Dean reflected on it all this way: "Joe Bugel told me I was the starting right guard. Joe Gibbs told me I was important to the offense. Bobby Beathard told my agent I might not make the team. I didn't know who to believe. Look, Joe Bugel and Joe Gibbs just won the Super Bowl. Their jobs are safe. Mine wasn't."
Meanwhile, in Washington, offensive tackle George Starke, the Head Hog, said, "This is like losing a brother . . . Whatever this means, it makes things difficult."
Dean and the rest of the Hogs recently posed, wearing top hats, for a new Hogs poster. Starke said that Dean, before signing with Tampa Bay, worried about the poster and his status as a Hog. "I told Fred not to worry, that the poster is of the Hogs who won the Super Bowl. Fred belonged in the poster. He is still a Hog," Starke said.
Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs added, "I think it was a mistake for Fred Dean (to leave), but that will be something he has to live with."
"Maybe I made a mistake," Dean said. "But it is my life, my decision. I'm the one that has to live with it."