"They say history repeats itself," Darryl Grant was saying. "But will it? That's the question."

The history to which Grant refers is the Redskins following this decade's Strike I with a football home run, victory in the 1983 Super Bowl. His question poses some others, among them: Is there anything about Strike II that suggests history again will bless the Redskins?

For omens, their first game back this season also will be against a team that says it represents New York but calls New Jersey home. This time, it's the Jets instead of the Giants -- and at home.

Ironically, the Jets nearly met the Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. They lost the AFC title game to the Dolphins, 14-0, in part because linebacker A.J. Duhe intercepted three passes and returned one for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Five years is not so long nearly everywhere but pro football. In 1982, the Redskins' genius coach was just another NFL Joe, with a 10-8 record early in his second season.

"We had absolutely no respect {from the rest of the teams}," Grant insists. "But what I remember most about that {surge through the Super Bowl} was every player making some kind of major contribution."

A staggering fact is this: five seasons later, only three Redskins who scored points during those 11 poststrike games still are with the team. One of them is not Art Monk, injured in the final regular season game and inactive for the playoffs; one of them is defensive lineman Grant.

Otis Wonsley scored Washington's first poststrike touchdown in '82 and Charlie Brown scored the last. In between, Grant grabbed a deflected pass and dashed 10 yards into the end zone against the Cowboys in the NFC title game and current players Clint Didier and Don Warren each caught one touchdown pass.

More than John Riggins' legs and Joe Theismann's arm, the Redskins rode Mark Moseley's toe to the Super Bowl. Five years later, place kicking is a major concern, the Redskins having run the gamut from Z (Zendejas) to A (Atkinson, Ali Haji-Sheikh and even Ariri).

Four of the Redskins' victories in '82, including the opener in overtime, were by five or fewer points; their only loss so far in '87 was by a point, to the Falcons.

Unity during Strike I was seen as a reason for the Redskins' success five years ago, the players practicing as an entire team during the 57 days without pay or play.

Some of that has been overblown, veterans still on the team say, because whole units worked together little more than a few weeks. So the somewhat disjointed '87 strike routine in fact was quite similar to the earlier one for the final month.

"We saved a little face in '82," linebacker Rich Milot said of the strikers. "I feel better physically now. There's not nearly so much rust."

The worry now is both personal and personnel, whether regulars and replacements can coexist as much as who recovered from prestrike injuries.

"I didn't sleep at all Tuesday night," said Joe Jacoby. "I was worried about how things would be here {in the locker room}. On the field, I knew everything would be totally professional."

Although Jacoby's resentment has not yet disappeared, his strike beard has. It was trimmed to a goatee and then sawed off completely during sleepless Tuesday.

Milot was surprised that the locker-room mood has been so tame.

"Everything seemed to change {toward harmony} once we got the pads on," he said. "Don't ask me why. I've talked to a few {replacement players}; I have nothing against them. I feel sorry for them more than anything.

"One guy even apologized to me. But more than I'm pro-union, I'm pro-player. And these guys were doing the same thing I was {as a rookie in 1979} -- trying to make the team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for them."

Coaches can return to more familiar company. Their weekly routine in '82 was easier, because no games were played during the strike.

"The replacement guys would wear one number all week in practice and another in the games," defensive coordinator Larry Peccatiello said, "so there were times in games you didn't know your own players."

Every veteran Redskin is expecting the same RFK Stadium welcome Sunday that happened after the '82 strike. This time, the booing likely will be more intense.

"But if you fall to pieces just because of some booing," Grant said, "you're not much of a team anyway. You've got to accept that and move on, not lose focus.

"And playing well this week is a premium {because the replacement team was unbeaten}. We have to win this game, whatever it takes."

Unlike '82, the Redskins are coming off the strike as favorites to advance at least to the NFC title game. No one was quite sure what to expect five years ago, even though the Redskins had won 10 of their previous 13 regular season games.

"The chemistry is different, obviously," Grant said. "The '82 team was the closest I've ever been on. Last year was sort of transitional. We were wondering what kind of team we were. What was our character? We have everything that it takes this year.

"I remember all of '82 being like the mood before we played the Bears {in the playoffs} last year. Same feeling of no respect for us going in. Having to prove ourselves. We felt that every single game in '82."

Grant paused. "Another thing. He {Gibbs} would often say in '82: 'It seems like it's our destiny; it seems like it's our destiny.'

"I remember {Coach Bill} Parcells saying last year: 'It seemed like it was our destiny {to win the Super Bowl}.' I thought: 'Wow. There's a relationship there.' "