Wouldn't you know that the Mark Moseley-Tony Zendejas duel would end in controversy?
After a contract dispute, a public exchange of words, a broken hand and a threat of ulcers, Moseley won his job back when the Redskins traded Zendejas to Houston yesterday for the Oilers' fifth-round pick in the 1986 NFL draft.
Zendejas says he is happy to go to Houston, a team that needs a kicker badly. "You've got to look at it a little selfishly," he said. "For a kicker, it's ideal. You're kicking in a dome, on turf, with no wind, no rain, no snow."
But he is not happy to be leaving Washington. When General Manager Bobby Beathard told him at practice yesterday the trade was finalized, Zendejas shrugged, pulled himself off one knee on the sideline, and walked to the locker room.
"They wanted to stay with a veteran kicker," he said. "It's an easier decision to make."
But after such pleasantries, he charged that he felt "negative vibes" from the coaches and said the constant experimentation with new holders and snappers made it difficult for him to get into a rhythm. "I was expecting a better atmosphere," he said. "How could I get used to it?"
Assistant coach Wayne Sevier acknowledged the snapping and holding changes made it tougher on Zendejas than Moseley, who has been in Washington for 12 years now. But in the end, Sevier said, the choice was not hard.
"On head-to-head competition, there's only one choice. It has to be Moseley," he said.
Beathard, who gave Zendejas a $150,000 signing bonus that he will take with him to Houston, agreed, with some reservations.
"I wouldn't deny I had high hopes for Tony, and my feelings don't change personally," he said. "When you get to the age of Mark Moseley (37), you certainly know he can't go on forever, although he's a great competitor and came in and won the battle.
"We're all in agreement that Tony is a terrific kicker and will kick 10 years in this league."
When Beathard was asked about letting such a prospect go, he said, "I'm aware of all you're saying. No comment." As for the $150,000, he said, "That could be a sore subject. We're the losers on that."
Gibbs denied Zendejas' charges of a negative atmosphere.
"I made up my mind gradually," Gibbs said.
"Believe me, it ain't going to get any worse than this," Zendejas said of the pressure he felt the past five weeks. "It was a learning experience."
Beathard told Zendejas that the Oilers play the Redskins Sept. 15 at RFK Stadium. "He didn't know that," Beathard said. "When I told him, he got a big smile on his face. Whatever that means."