As Redskins management, represented by General Manager Bobby Beathard, was making its position known to the media yesterday, a wee voice of Redskins labor could be heard. Behind a crack in the nearby locker room door, Dexter Manley chirped:

"No scrubs here."

By whatever you choose to call them, and Scabskins seems appropriate to the union, fresh bodies for Washington's pro football team are expected to assemble Wednesday.

Shop steward Neal Olkewicz and some other temporarily former Redskins were scheduled to be on strike parade today, a full 24 hours before their replacements arrive.

"Practice picketing," Olkewicz called it.

At Redskin Park late yesterday, the players were walking toward the sunset, to reappear who knows when. The mood was one of, well, semi-finality, for the season-ending ritual of locker cleanout took place.

"It took me three years to amass this," said guard R. C. Thielemann, "and they're making me take it out. It'll probably take me another three years to get organized."

In the sack Thielemann was lugging over his shoulder were most of his football belongings: at least a dozen pairs of shoes, assorted pads, an empty cup and a playbook.

A playbook?

"Don't want to leave that," he said. "Some of those guys {the strikebreakers} would sell 'em two days after this all ends."

And when might the unpleasantness end?

I say less than in three weeks. No more than two games per team with semi-pros will be held. (If this influences any over-and-under strike bets, keep in mind I also had the Broncos beating the Giants in the Super Bowl.)

Too much is involved for the union and owners not to bend. With an average salary of $230,000, the players cannot survive without too many paychecks. Neither can management long afford to puff teams that might well lose to many Division II colleges.

Imagine this, as a near-ultimate absurdity: the winner of every major college bowl game being better than the winner of the Super Bowl.

Mostly, all strikes are about money and leverage. Yesterday, the football players were helped immensely by a man nearly all of them never heard of before.

Mention Tom Roberts to the most attuned dues-paying member of the NFL Players Association and the likely response would be: "He one of those scabs comin' to take my job?"

No, Roberts indirectly is trying to make life a bit more secure for NFL players. He is an arbitrator, and yesterday he ruled that baseball owners in 1985 acted in collusion against the players.

"Surely," Roberts wrote, "{the players whose contracts had expired} had a value at some price. And yet no offers were advanced." Roberts underlined the no.

At the least, this is a mighty public relations blow for the football players. It tells the public that enormously paid athletes frequently get blind-sided by even wealthier owners.

The Roberts decision ought to make the football owners more rigid against free agency for their players. This is because baseball's owners learned collusion tactics from them. Only one player, out of several thousand, changed teams by the terms of the latest NFL agreement.

But the football owners may be more willing to bend on issues other than free agency, such as pensions, that might be less flashy though more important long term to players.

Straight-faced, NFL executives insist the strikebreaking players will not be as awful as most of us believe.

"Think of it this way," a prominent official from an NFC team said over the weekend. "There is not much difference in talent between the 25th player on your training camp roster and the 60th."

He has a point. Many, possibly most, NFL players have an overly unrealistic opinion of their abilities. If a team has 15 players that honestly cannot be replaced rather quickly, it is unusually blessed.

In their strike, the players especially need the near-total support of those stars upon whom they -- and the league -- rely during labor harmony. Simply put, if half a dozen quarterbacks, five runners of the Eric Dickerson class and some prominent defensive headhunters defect, the union loses.

That is what the next week-plus is all about. The owners will be testing the strength of the union; the union will be testing fan reaction to diluted teams. If sweet reason prevails, a settlement could be reached without any sham-games being played.

"I'll look 'em in the eyes," Charles Mann said of the new Redskins players. "If they walk past me, they walk past me . . . I understand {why they would cross the picket line}; I don't like it."

As a practical matter, Mann realizes, the Redskins could be all but eliminated from the playoffs by the time he and his buddies return. So while they support the strike, most striking Redskins will be rooting for Beathard and the coaches to field a fierce team.

Let's say one of the teams bolts the strike. Would it not have an unfair advantage that might wreck the union and management's dreams of penny-wise parity?

"I don't think there would be any satisfaction beating up a bunch of free agents," Olkewicz said.

Suddenly, he paused and looked embarrassed. The cut had been colder than intended. He did not arrive in the NFL as a strikebreaker; he had been a just-give-me-a-chance free agent.