The Washington Redskins opened their 1985 training camp today without two essentials: their top draft pick and drinking water.
They expected to be without cornerback Tory Nixon, the 33rd player selected in the National Football League draft, who doesn't like the estimated $900,000 contract offer he received Wednesday night from the Redskins and is holding out.
But contaminated water is something new. An "unacceptable" level of bacteria was discovered in the Carlisle water supply earlier in the week, forcing residents -- and Redskins -- to boil water for one minute before drinking it.
The water advisory is expected to be lifted by 1 p.m. Friday, town officials say. There have been no reports of illnesses.
"This is our first crisis," Coach Joe Gibbs said, laughing, as he arrived with his two sons in the parking lot outside the team dormitory. "But we're on top of it."
The Redskins ordered hundreds of gallons of Blue Mountain spring water and had it delivered to their Dickinson College training site this afternoon.
It was far easier for them to solve the water problem than to figure out an answer to what apparently amounts to a $100,000 rift between the team and Nixon.
Larry Muno, Nixon's agent, has asked for a contract close to $1 million for four years, which includes a signing bonus of less than $300,000. All indications are Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard has offered $900,000.
"He said he has offered us the absolute bottom line," Muno said by phone from his office in Los Angeles. He added in a later conversation that Beathard told him he would discuss the Redskins' offer with owner Jack Kent Cooke.
But Muno said he and Nixon are not satisfied. Last season, defensive tackle Bob Slater, the 31st player selected in the 1984 draft, received $1,160,000, plus another possible $20,000, from the Redskins: $350,000 to sign; $140,000 for 1984; $180,000 for 1985; $225,000 for 1986; and $265,000 for 1987; plus $5,000 a year if he makes the roster.
This year, contract figures have fallen, agents say, in large part because of decreasing competition from the U.S. Football League. Yet several second-round choices reportedly have signed this week for packages worth about $1 million, and this rankles Muno.
"We're not trying to gouge anyone," Muno said. "But I'm not just going to take what they throw to me. I hope they can see things our way. I don't want to hold Tory out."
Both Muno and Beathard apparently were waiting for the other to call today. Beathard said he was "surprised" and "a little disappointed" Muno did not call him back late Wednesday night after two earlier conversations that day.
"I thought we made some progress," Beathard said. "If we make the same amount of progress (today), I'd think we'd be pretty close."
When Gibbs arrived here this afternoon, he immediately spent a good deal of time talking about his one missing draftee.
"Our first week is geared all for the rookies," he said. "If somebody chooses to miss that week, it's a lot tougher. Obviously, he wouldn't be as far along."
Nixon also missed the final three days of the Redskins' May minicamp with a pulled hamstring.
"We're kind of in the dark on him," said Richie Petitbon, assistant head coach/defense. "The world's not going to end if he's not here this week, but when the vets come in, he'll be shoved back."
It still is likely Nixon will show up sometime soon, perhaps over the weekend. Beathard said he hoped to sign Nixon by this weekend so he could turn his attention to the Redskins' unsigned veterans: running back John Riggins, defensive tackle Dave Butz and kicker Mark Moseley. None is expected in camp before signing.
In Washington today, Riggins, without giving specifics on the contract talks, said in an interview on WJLA-TV: "On the basis of what they are offering, I could play four or five games."
Defensive tackle Tom Beasley, a free agent who was expected to miss camp in a contract dispute, called the main number of the camp today to say he was coming after all, Beathard said.
Dick Daniels, director of player personnel, took the call.
"I haven't talked to Tom yet, but that's good news," Beathard said.
Beathard expects Beasley to sign when he reports next week.
But the defensive line may end up playing without pass-rushing specialist Tony McGee. Gibbs said McGee, who underwent offseason knee surgery, probably could not pass a physical now.
However, instead of releasing McGee, the Redskins have decided to allow him to take a physical later this summer, Gibbs said.
It still seems likely that McGee, whose name did not appear on the team's 116-player training camp roster, will not make the final 45-player limit.
Sixty-seven players arrived at training camp today. Included were four veterans -- reserve quarterbacks Jay Schroeder and Babe Laufenberg, wide receiver/cornerback Ricky Smith and defensive tackle Paul Sverchek -- and 11 first-year players. The rest are rookies. Several completed the physicals they started at minicamp . . . Gibbs said Riggins has been "working out hard" at Redskin Park every day this week . . . As for quarterback Joe Theismann, Gibbs said, "He seems to be in a great frame of mind. He busted in on a meeting the other day (at Redskin Park) with a dog and a headband on."