Washington Redskins offensive tackle Mark May, suitably impressed with the New Jersey Generals, said he will make a decision on an offer from the U.S. Football League team some time in the next week.
May, who became a free agent Feb. 1, said he is considering an offer from the Generals worth an estimated $400,000 a year, "substantially more" than anything offered so far by the Redskins. He is serious enough about a jump to the new league to spend another day at their training camp at Central Florida University.
"The difference so far is enough to make me come down here and evaluate the situation," said May, who originally had planned to return to Washington tonight. "I'll probably go home tomorrow night, kick back, and make a decision in the next week."
The Redskins, meanwhile, are trying to avoid a bidding war. General Manager Bobby Beathard spoke with May's agent, Ralph Cindrich, twice today, but apparently no progress was made. Beathard said that while May had promised to talk to the Redskins before making a decision, the Generals' offer would have little effect on their negotiations.
"We've assured Mark that we want him. He's in our plans and we want to keep him," Beathard said. "But at the same time we can't get into a bidding war that would hurt the team."
The Redskins initially offered May the minimum salary ($180,000) to retain his rights as a four-year veteran, then made a considerably higher offer prior to his departure for the Generals' camp. Neither May nor Cindrich would comment on contract figures.
May indicated that the difference between the two teams' offers is significant enough that it is conceivable, though unlikely, that a deal with the Generals could be concluded in the next couple of days.
May also said that nothing will be done until Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie signs his contract with the Generals. The Boston College quarterback is expected to complete his deal, worth a reported $7 million, Tuesday and hold a press conference in New York. He then will travel to Orlando early Tuesday evening, about the time May leaves for Washington.
"I could probably sign today if I wanted to, but they want to get the Flutie thing over with. Hey, if they gave me $7 million, I'd sign right now, forget the contract stuff," May said.
May spent the day watching the Generals practice and getting a physical examination from team doctor Mark Schottenfeld. He also visited with a former Redskins' teammate, running back Clarence Harmon.
"I'm very comfortable here," May said. "I have some friends here and I can get an honest evaluation from people who won't snowball me. So if I'm going to make a transition, hopefully it will be an easy one."
May laughingly said he was encouraged by the Generals' camp after some of the horror stories he had heard about the USFL, most of which came from the old Washington Federals.
"I'd heard rumors about the terrible meals," he said. "But it's very much like an NFL camp. They've gone first class and made a commitment to being as close to the NFL as they can."
May said money is not the only thing tempting him to the USFL.
"I'm in the peak of my game," he said. "I'm young, I'm healthy and I haven't had any knee operations. I'm only 25, but I've already done the things in the NFL that everybody strives for.
"I've been to the Super Bowl twice, winning and losing, both sides of the ball. I've accomplished most of the things that you would want to if you had played 10 years. I'm not saying I've done everything in the NFL, but I've done the things that you set goals for. The advantage of the USFL is that it's a challenge, and I love a challenge."
May said most of the advice he has been getting tells him to take the money and run, but his ties to Washington are strong.
"Everybody I talk to says, 'Take the money, take the money,' " he said. "My friends in Washington said, 'We'd love to see you stay, but you'd be a fool not to take the money.' I called my 14-year-old nephew the other day. He said, 'Sit back, consider all the options. Then take the biggest offer.' The kid is 14.
"Money is very important, but it's not the most important thing to me. My decision won't be intended to hurt anybody. I've done a lot for Washington and it's done a lot for me. There are a lot more things involved."