Football matters twist in so many mysterious ways in July. Today, different sorts of mystery clung to Art Monk and Charlie Brown, the Washington Redskins' acrobatic wide receivers.
Monk, who has 149 receptions in 41 games with the Redskins, went through his second practice today since he broke a bone in his right foot in the last regular-season game against St. Louis last season, and broke his heart by missing the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
"I have always had confidence in myself," said Monk, who ran silky-smooth today, but said he felt tightness in his legs afterward. "Now, it's a matter of getting confidence in my foot."
The mystery of Charlie Brown, the all-pro who caught a National Football Conference-best eight touchdowns passes last season, is this: he is unhappy with his contract.
"All I want to do is get paid by my value," Brown said from his Virginia home today. Brown, whose salary was $46,000 last season, was requested to report to camp today along with the other receivers and quarterbacks. But he didn't, he said, "because of my contract."
Entering the final year of a three-year contract, Brown is scheduled for a $60,000 base salary in 1983, the minimum for a third-year player. Only Monday, defensive end Dexter Manley, another third-year player scheduled to make $60,000 this season, said he wanted to be paid as much as Dallas' Randy White ($318,000 per year, highest among defensive lineman in the NFL last year) because Manley felt he was among the best in the league at his position.
"I wouldn't say that I'm the best. But I'm one of the best," said Brown, 24. "But when it comes to talking about my salary, I don't want to base my name against anyone else's . . . Let's just say I know that $60,000 is not Charlie Brown."
Brown said the Redskins have offered him a four-year deal, including an increased salary for this season. Asked if the Redskins' offer was close to matching the 1982 base salaries of San Francisco's Dwight Clark ($110,000) and San Diego's Wes Chandler ($105,000), two other all-pro receivers, Brown said "Yeah, it is in that area."
Brown said he would decide whether he would report to camp after hearing from Craig Kelly, his South Carolina-based attorney, tonight.
"I might report tonight (Tuesday). But I might not," he said. "I've been ready to play football for a long time. I don't want this team to fall behind because of me. I think I'm pretty much an important part of the offense. But I'll be thinking about it (contract) during practices, no matter how hard I try not to."
"Charlie and I had a talk yesterday," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "And he said that the situation being what it was, he didn't feel like he could come in and really concentrate on football and give it his all.
"I told him, 'Hey, we don't want that here. You're doing the right thing. If you can't concentrate on football than we don't want you here.' So he'll try to get it worked out with Bobby (Beathard, Redskins' general manager)."
Told after today's second practice that Brown was considering not reporting, Gibbs addressed Manley's and Brown's situations together, saying, "Charlie Brown and Dexter Manley are two guys Bobby (Beathard) and his staff helped get as late-round picks (eighth and fifth rounds, respectively). I think the Redskins want to try to treat them right and keep them happy.
"Our intention (in approaching both players) was that these are two guys who have played hard and done well," Gibbs said. "I believe in my heart the Redskins have treated their players well . . . I respect our players on decisions they make on their own futures."
Asked if some recent contract hassles are the result of the fame and glory born of last season's Super Bowl victory, Gibbs said, "I really don't know. I think that is something that would be hard to evaluate."
Analyzing the matter from the perspective of seven NFL seasons, tight end Rick Walker said, "In football, there are always little wars between management and the players. The contract is a truce . . . I don't think all of this is happening because we won the Super Bowl. I think it's strictly guys trying to protect their own welfare."
Walker added, "When you produce a product and that product is successful, you expect royalties."
Quarterback Joe Theismann said of the Brown-Manley contract matters, "I don't think this has anything to do with us winning the Super Bowl. I think it's possibly the sign of a lot of big contracts being shelved out to guys whose contracts expire.
"But the reality is, when you sign a contract, you have an obligation. What Charlie and Dexter have to realize is that they made a deal. I know what they are feeling. I can't tell you how many times I had wished I waited longer to sign my contract. (San Diego quarterback) Dan Fouts is not worth five times more than Joe Theismann. But he is getting it. And I don't begrudge him a bit because I think you are worth every penny you can get. But you have to know when to get it.
"My advice to Charlie and Dexter is this: Don't sign a (new) contract. Don't accept pay raises. Come in to camp and play your butts off this year. In two years, you will make three times the money you will now because the USFL will be there and the International Football League will be there.
"I put this up to both of them: Sit out a year and see what it costs you. Ask (Redskins running back) John Riggins what it's like to sit out a year. What was his quote when he came back--'I'm bored, I'm broke, I'm back.'
"I rest my case," Theismann said.
Monk, the player teammates call "Monkenstein" or "Money" or just plain Arthur ("That's a distinguished name," Walker said, "and he's a distinguished player") is hardly resting his case.
It's hard to rest after being forced not only to miss the Super Bowl game, but also having to watch the first half of that game sitting high in the Rose Bowl stands.
"And I was sitting right in the middle of a bunch of Miami fans, too," Monk said.
"The first thing that everybody always asks me now is, 'How's the foot?' Then they ask, 'How was it not playing in the Super Bowl?' It seems like a broken record now.
"Now, I want to get back to the Super Bowl for selfish reasons. Obviously, I want the whole team there. But I want to do it for me. Even if we lose, it's something I want to experience."
Full of savvy and grace on the field and off, a man with vast versatility and an itsy-bitsy ego, Monk says he feels stiffness in his foot only in the morning.
Asked after his first practice back how the foot held up, Monk flashed a grin and, tucking mystery to bed, said, "Forgot all about it."
Alvin Garrett and Virgil Seay, veteran wide receivers, failed to report because they said they were unaware that their presence was requested. Both are due in Wednesday morning . . . Greg Williams, second-year defensive back, fell during a drill and injured his knee. Fit with a heavy brace, he will return to Washington to have it checked Wednesday. Ligament damage is feared.