After practice yesterday, Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs asked his players to gather around him on the frigid football field. He had some news: the names of the Redskins who had been named to the Pro Bowl.
He was not a happy man.
There were only three names to announce: those of receiver Art Monk, guard Russ Grimm and tackle Joe Jacoby, all repeaters from last year. Monk and Grimm will start, and Jacoby, who missed six games with a sprained right knee, will be a reserve.
No member of the NFC's third-ranked defense, considered the most consistent and dependable facet of the team during this 9-6 season, received enough votes to qualify for the 17-player defensive unit that will play the AFC Feb. 2 in Honolulu.
"I was really, really disappointed for a number of our guys," Gibbs said. "It's hard to understand . . . The defense worked so hard all year and played hard. That's not right, in my opinion."
Richie Petitbon, the assistant head coach/defense, said he thought several of his players "got gypped."
"Certainly, at least one member of that defense should be in the Pro Bowl," Petitbon said. "Deep down, I know our guys got the short end of the stick."
What surprised the Redskins most was that neither a defensive end nor a cornerback made the NFC team. The Redskins have the third-best defense against the pass (it was ranked No. 1 earlier in the season) and the fourth-best against the run in the conference.
Ends Charles Mann and Dexter Manley rank third and fourth, respectively, in the conference in sacks with 13 1/2 and 13. Defensive backs Vernon Dean and Darrell Green also are having very good seasons, their coaches say.
However, neither is among the conference leaders in interceptions. Dean has five and Green two. Dallas' Everson Walls, who made the Pro Bowl, leads the NFC with eight, and seven players are tied with six.
It's also hard for anyone to quarrel with the players selected over the Redskins. Chicago's Richard Dent, who leads the conference with 15 sacks, and New York's Leonard Marshall, who is second with 14 1/2, will be the starting defensive ends. Dan Hampton of the Bears will be the backup.
At cornerback, the choices were Eric Wright of San Francisco and Walls, with LeRoy Irvin of Los Angeles as the backup.
"It tends to be people who are playing on teams that are for sure in the playoffs," Mann said. "Miami, San Francisco . . . they usually put the most players in the Pro Bowl. I don't think that's right, but it just happens."
Manley said the Redskins' "roller-coaster" season hurt them in the voting.
"We didn't win the division, we're fighting to get in the playoffs, we don't have the best record," he said. "They pick players who play for winning teams."
NFC teams made their Pro Bowl selections Tuesday, and they were announced yesterday. The AFC team will be announced today. No player is allowed to vote for someone on his own team.
It comes as no surprise that the Bears, who are 14-1, placed eight men on the 41-player NFC roster. Two players were unanimous selections: linebackers Mike Singletary of the Bears and Lawrence Taylor of the Giants.
This is only the third time in 15 years the Redskins have not placed a defensive player on the Pro Bowl roster; 1981 was the last time it happened, when kick returner Mike Nelms was the only Redskin selected.
The Redskins had five players selected for the Pro Bowl in 1982, seven in 1983 and four (Monk, Grimm, Jacoby and Green) in 1984.
"Darrell Green didn't have half the year last year he's having this year," Petitbon said.
Green's statistics were better last season -- he had five interceptions, including two in a 30-28 victory at Dallas several days before the Pro Bowl balloting -- but he did play a month of this season with a cast on his fractured left hand.
Green's comment on the voting this year?
It's likely that Mann and Manley and Green and Dean were hurt by votes split between them, considering they play the same position.
Name recognition didn't help either, linebacker Rich Milot said.
"You develop a reputation, and that helps you get in the next time," he said.
If that's true, the Redskins' no-name linebacking crew didn't stand a chance.
"I have no notoriety," said Mann, in his third season. "I'm not one to shoot my mouth off. I didn't really think I had a shot, anyway."
On the other end, Manley, who speaks out on occasion, is quite well-known.
"I was surprised none of us made it on defense, but who am I going to get angry with? No one but myself."
The name-recognition factor that probably hurt the defense very likely helped the three offensive players who will be back to Hawaii.
Jacoby missed more than one-third of the season with his knee problems; Grimm had to leave five games with various injuries; and Monk, who missed one game with a sprained left shoulder, has only recently begun to flash his '84 form.
"I was happy for the guys that made it," Gibbs said. "I felt that we had other guys that should have made it.
"I just told them, 'I hope we get a chance to win 10 games and get an opportunity to prove them wrong in the playoffs.' "
Quarterback Jay Schroeder (cracked rib, back spasms) worked the entire practice for the second consecutive day.
"Do I have any choice?" he asked.
Dean (bruised ribs) also practiced. Defensive end Steve Hamilton (hamstring) is the only injured Redskin listed as questionable for Saturday's 4 p.m. game in St. Louis. The others all are probable.
It was the coldest day of the season at Redskin Park. "I was kidding our guys today," Gibbs said. "I said, 'Hey, they fought wars in Russia like this.' And the guys said, 'Yeah, and a lot of guys died, too.'"