Tony Zendejas would like to put his mark -- a Zorro-like Z from, say, 45 yards -- right across the chests of the Washington Redskins Sunday at RFK Stadium.
"Something in the last minute to win the game," Zendejas said, "would be ideal."
Such a kick, he said, would be more for redemption than for retribution against the Redskins, a simple case of "watch this!" and not "take that!"
These emotions arise from the fact that two weeks ago, the Redskins traded him to the Houston Oilers for a fifth-round draft pick in 1986. After a month-long competiton with blast-furnace intensity, there wasn't room on the Redskins' roster for both Zendejas and Mark Moseley, the 14-year veteran, so Zendejas was sent packing.
Consequently, he entered the relaxed calm of Houston, where Coach Hugh Campbell greeted him with a reassuring, "The job's yours, kid," and the kid then converted his only two field goal tries, from 35 and 46 yards, in the Oilers' 26-23 upset of Miami in the season opener.
Zendejas' world has taken on a more serene tone. His coach loves him. He is surrounded by a large Mexican community, which he admits makes it seem as though he's back at his Chino, Calif., home.
One of his attorneys, Jeff Dankworth, admits that, although kicking success might not make Zendejas' local marketability equal Los Angeles' Fernando-mania of yore, it might at least help him match the ethnic popularity of Dallas kicker Rafael Septien.
But the memory of Washington still hurts.
"I think (Coach Joe) Gibbs wanted Mark all along," Zendejas said, sitting outside the Oilers' weight room this week. "He didn't say anything. I could just feel it.
"I think Bobby Beathard was on my side. I think they could have worked it differently. They should have gotten rid of one of us sooner. It wasn't fair to either one of us.
"It was like I was never relaxed at all in Washington. It was tense when I got there and it all multiplied. It's relaxed here and I do best when it's relaxed."
"I think Tony's feeling was that there was favoritism," says Marv Demoff, Zendejas' Los Angeles-based attorney. "Tony got the feeling all through that he was the stepchild and Moseley was the favorite son. He got to Houston and Campbell said, 'You are my kicker.' It's nice to be wanted.
"I'm not criticizing him, but Gibbs can't put out of his mind 1982 and 1983 (when Moseley was the National Football League's most valuable player and then set a league record for points in a season). That gave Moseley a tremendous lead over Tony going into it. The fact that Tony will be kicking in 1990 didn't seem to matter."
Fully aware that the Redskins have released veterans such as Mike Nelms, Perry Brooks and Mark Murphy, and traded Joe Washington and Charlie Brown, Demoff added, "I think a lot of players on the Redskins have benefited from Gibbs' loyalty over players of equal or better ability. Time will tell if Gibbs made a good move on Tony."
On the day Zendejas was traded, Gibbs gave his reasoning: "I had to make a decision that I was going to hang my job and my future on. Sometime, it's going to be cold and I'm going to be asking somebody to kick a 40-yard field goal in a driving rainstorm or an ice storm. It may be my job (on the line) and it may be the team depending on him putting them in the playoffs.
"In this case, Tony had been given a chance and, in the end, Mark Moseley was the guy I wanted kicking for me when it counted."
Zendejas didn't quite see it that way. And to Campbell, the former coach of the USFL Los Angeles Express, who originally drafted Zendejas, none of that mattered.
"I've seen him from his college games on," he said, "and he's never missed regularly that I've seen."
Demoff said that the Redskins' trading Zendejas and keeping Moseley reminds him of 1977 when the Raiders retained nine-year veteran Errol Mann and cut rookie kicker Rolf Benirschke. Mann was gone two seasons later and Benirschke is still kicking in San Diego.
That Zendejas converted only one of four field goals during the preseason and that Moseley converted two of four was mostly a product of pressure, Zendejas said. He said that quarterback Joe Theismann did a fine job as holder, but that the alternating centers affected his soccer-style timing a great deal.
Zendejas also said that a coach recorded every kick that he and Moseley tried during training camp and that the last time something like that happened to him, Zendejas was the all-league kicker for the Express. When he asked the Express coach why he was doing it, the coach said he didn't know.
"It was ridiculous," Zendejas recalled. "So he just stopped."
Demoff added, "I don't think Tony has any criticism of Gibbs. He just feels that, 'Gee, if it was going to be like this, then it was a whole lot different than I had been told when I went in.' He had been led to believe that it was an open situation, that if it went 15 rounds that he didn't have to score a knockout.
"It fits in with Gibbs' whole pattern of loyalty and the basic frame of mind of coaches, of the known versus the unknown. When you put it all together, it is understandable. To Tony, he feels, 'I'm a better kicker than Moseley and why couldn't they see that?' I think Tony isn't upset because they kept Moseley over him, but because of the whole way it was done to the kickers."
Zendejas, 26, doesn't want to make waves. He merely smiles when a visitor points to the picture on the wall at the Oilers' practice facility. In the 1971 team photo, a 23-year-old kicker with dark brown hair sits, legs folded. It's Moseley.
"Mark had told me that he had played here," Zendejas said. As straight as any of his kicks, he added: "I've never doubted myself. You just have to learn to accept things sometimes."