They are football-rich by virtue of having appeared in the last two Super Bowls, but confidently these Washington Redskins talk about their rich becoming richer.
The Redskins slid four more coins into their precious piggy bank yesterday. The team learned that four of its number have been selected by National Football Conference players and coaches to this year's Pro Bowl: wide receiver Art Monk, cornerback Darrell Green and two of the Hogs, tackle Joe Jacoby and guard Russ Grimm.
All were voted as starters except Monk, a reserve behind St. Louis' Roy Green and Green Bay's James Lofton.
"I've had some ups and downs this year, but I think I deserve everything that I'm getting now," said second-year pro Green. "I think I've made the plays that have counted. Yeah, I think the Dallas game Sunday helped me a lot (he had two interceptions in the 30-28 victory). But it should have, because that game was on the line and that's the mark of a Pro-Bowler: getting beat by a few inches and coming back and beating them."
"This comes as a surprise. This whole year has been a surprise for me, to go as it has," said Monk, the fifth-year receiver of on-field grace and elegance who has caught a league-high 95 passes. He needs seven catches against St. Louis Sunday in RFK Stadium to break the NFL single-season mark of 101 receptions set by Houston's Charley Hennigan (in the premerger AFL) in 1964.
"This year was scarier for me," Grimm said. "I wanted to try to reaffirm myself (as an all-pro). I took the attitude of, 'Was last year a fluke or did I really make it?' " Grimm, like Jacoby, was among seven Redskins to make last year's Pro Bowl.
"What has made me great?" said Jacoby, reiterating the question at hand. "Russ. We've played alongside each other and we always know what the other is thinking. (Pause for chuckle.) Really, we're the same guy, except I'm taller and Russ has a black eye."
Coach Joe Gibbs praised each of these four players, then said, "I won't name names, but I'm disappointed that some of the other (Redskins) didn't make it."
There seemed a genuine sense of disappointment at Redskin Park that quarterback Joe Theismann (22 scoring passes), running back John Riggins (1,163 yards with only one previous Pro Bowl selection, in 1975) and special teams leader Otis Wonsley (team-high 142 hits) were not selected. This is the first year each conference has selected a special teams player other than kicker, punter and returner.
San Francisco's Joe Montana and St. Louis' Neil Lomax are the quarterbacks named; the running backs are Eric Dickerson (Rams), Walter Payton (Chicago), James Wilder (Tampa Bay) and Wendell Tyler (49ers), each of whom has rushed for more yards this season than Riggins. Dallas safety Bill Bates is the special teams player selected.
Conference players and coaches made their selections Monday for official announcement today, but meantime notified each club, and Gibbs informed his players yesterday. The American Football Conference officially announced its selections yesterday.
Theismann, a Pro Bowl choice each of the past two seasons, said, "I'm happy for the other guys. That's all I really want to say."
The Redskins are treating this entire season in the same manner as they are treating the Pro Bowl selections: thankful for what they have, yet wanting more.
The Redskins are 10-5 and alone in first place in the NFC Eastern Division. If they beat the Cardinals, they will win the division, a bye in the wild-card round and the home-field advantage in the first round.
Across the Redskin Park locker room you can hear players talk of winning Sunday for the sake of pride, with hopes of moving on to a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
Yet, really, there is more than pride at stake. There's money, too.
If the Redskins beat St. Louis, they would move on to the first-round playoff game and earn $10,000 per player for participating in that game.
If they lose Sunday, there is still a mathematical chance that the Redskins could get a wild card. By participating in a wild-card playoff game, each player would earn $6,000.
"We're playing for pride Sunday, not X amount of dollars," said veteran pass rusher Tony McGee.
Other Redskins had different views. "St. Louis is standing between us and a whole lot of money," said strong safety Ken Coffey. "I mean, let's face it, I've only been out of college for three years. I've got my degree (in finance), but what's the chance I can go out and earn that kind of money somewhere else right now?"
Tight end Don Warren said, "I think everybody knows that St. Louis is a must game for us. And over the last two years we have been a money team. To me, 10 grand for two or three hours work means something. It means a lot. I know I'll look at that game like it's the last two or three hours of my life."
As usual, special teams captain Pete Cronan had a slightly different view. "The first time we were at this point (Super Bowl-winning year of 1982), we played for the ring," he said. "The second time around, last year, we played for the money. Now, I think we're playing for both."
Naturally, Cronan expounded: "When we played for the ring, we were victorious. When we played for the money, we got beat badly (38-9 by the Los Angeles Raiders in the Super Bowl in January)."
And what about now, with the team playing for the ring and the money? "Maybe we'll tie," Cronan figured.
Riggins did not practice yesterday. He rested his lower back, but Gibbs said with seeming certainty, "I think John will play." Coaches marveled at how Grimm, who needed six stitches to repair a lacerated eyelid, practiced, even with his eye discolored and stillswollen . . .
Gibbs made certain to tell reporters he "instructed" Theismann to take several steps before falling to one knee in killing the final seconds of Sunday's victory in Dallas. Several of the Cowboys were angered by Theismann's movement and referred to him as a "hot dog" . . .
The Cardinals' starting left cornerback, Lionel Washington, who leads the team with five interceptions, missed practice yesterday and has been listed as questionable for Sunday's game. A Cardinals spokesperson said Washington was not limping and likely will start.
Starting linebacker Thomas Howard (ankle) and reserve tight end Greg LaFleur (knee) also missed practice. Howard is probable for the game, LaFleur questionable.