HERNDON, Va. -- As they received their glittering Tiffany diamond rings at Redskin Park for winning Super Bowl XXVI yesterday, the Washington Redskins remembered the way they were.
Coach Joe Gibbs, who passed out the rings at the ceremony, said that what he remembers about last year's team was not any big plays, but the "special feeling" that team had.
"There were very few problems for the coaching staff. It was an easy coaching year," Gibbs said.
That special feeling easily can get lost as the players try to cash in on their success. Gibbs is likely to have more than his share of problems this year as he deals with the inevitable holdouts.
When camp opens Sunday in Carlisle, Pa., the holdout season will start. Yesterday may have been the last time for a long time that the entire team is together.
If there was a moment that captured how things have changed, it was when Mark Rypien's name was called.
The quarterback had to interrupt an impromptu news conference about his contract negotiations to accept his ring.
Rypien all but conceded he'll miss the first week of camp. Last year his holdout lasted the first 10 days of camp.
Rypien and his agent, Ken Staninger, in Washington for two days to talk contract, flew to Toronto last night for the Argonauts' home opener and to talk again with Toronto owner Bruce McNall.
Staninger and the Redskins apparently narrowed the gap from $2 million to about $1.5 million. Rypien wants more than $4 million and the Redskins are offering less than $3 million. The team is probably willing to come up to $3 million, but Rypien doesn't seem eager to drop below $4 million.
Last night in Toronto, Rypien took a hard line when he spoke to reporters. "You kind of expect someone to put their arm around )) your shoulder and say, 'Thanks for the great year.' I feel I gave them my heart and soul and in return they're telling me, 'That's not enough.' I feel like I've been slapped in the face."
Meanwhile, the Redskins have a dozen other unsigned veterans, including Darrell Green, who wants to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league, and Jim Lachey, who wants to the highest-paid offensive lineman. They're not due in camp for another week.
Of the players due Sunday, Rypien, wide receiver Ricky Sanders and top draft choice Desmond Howard will be the toughest to sign.
Two other veterans due Sunday, John Brandes and Terry Orr, are unsigned, but are expected to sign in time to start camp.
Center Jeff Bostic, one of the six who won a third Super Bowl with the Redskins, is entering his option year, but wants a new deal. He might add his name to the list of holdouts.
"There are people in my position in my same year who are making a lot more money than I am and they play with sorry football teams," he said.
He didn't mention any names, but center Ray Donaldson of the Indianapolis Colts is averaging $735,000. Bostic is averaging $518,000.
Bostic said, "I think it's a big key for us to get everybody signed and in camp and then everybody can pretty much turn their attention to one thing -- playing football."
It may be a while before football is the only focus for the Redskins.