CARLISLE, Pa. -- The day after Gov. Bill Clinton made a bus stop here, Joe Gibbs arrived by helicopter to start his 12th training camp.
"I'm footballing it from here on out," the Washington Redskins coach said after making the trip from Long Pond, Pa., where he watched the start of the Pocono 500. His car, driven by Dale Jarrett, finished 10th.
Gibbs spent much of the off-season following the NASCAR team he sponsors, but now he's back at Dickinson College ready to focus on defending the team's Super Bowl title.
He couldn't find a better place to do it than in this rural central Pennsylvania town where Clinton campaigned at a truck stop Saturday.
The same Middle America flavor that made it an attractive place for the Democratic nominee to campaign makes it an ideal training site. There aren't many distractions.
The city of Richmond, Va., tried to lure the Redskins away a year ago, but Gibbs was happy to stay. This is the team's 30th season here.
"We have a great relationship with the town," Gibbs said. "We've had no major problems with the town since I've been here."
Coming off a Super Bowl season, Gibbs will have more than enough problems to deal with on the field.
As expected, two high-profile players, quarterback Mark Rypien and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, became holdouts when the rookies and selected veterans reported yesterday.
General manager Charley Casserly said he hasn't had negotiations since last Thursday with the agent for either player.
The Redskins thought they were making progress with Rypien until he went to Toronto Thursday and said he'd been "slapped in the face" by the Redskins.
Since the Redskins are offering about $3.1 million, which would make him the third-highest-paid player in the league behind Dan Marino ($4.34 million) and Joe Montana ($3.25 million), they were surprised by Rypien's comments. He had said the sides were "making progress" at the team's ring ceremony last week.
Gibbs said: "I didn't quite understand it [Rypien's comments]. It certainly looked like we were moving toward getting things settled."
When Gibbs was asked if he thought the offer was a "slap in the face," he said with a smile, "I'm not going to get into it."
Rypien wants more than $4 million, but the Redskins are hoping after a week or so, he'll decide $3 million is too much to pass up. Last year, he held out for 10 days before signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal.
On Howard's contract, Gibbs said: "That's probably a little more defined. We've probably got a shooting range there. He's the fourth guy [drafted], so I would think he's going to be between three and five."
The problem is that Howard wants more than the $1.5 million that the third player drafted, Sean Gilbert, got from the Los Angeles Rams. The Redskins are offering about $1.35 million.
"Desmond has unique qualities and attributes and he's enthusiastic about being a Redskin," said Leigh Steinberg, his agent. Steinberg noted he was the first offensive player selected, and offensive players traditionally get more than defensive players.
Since the Redskins are strong at wide receiver with Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, it won't have an immediate impact on the team if he holds out for long.
Rypien is another story. He's the only proven quarterback on the roster. Backup Cary Conklin has yet to take a snap in the regular season, Stan Humphries has fallen out of favor, Chris Hakel is a rookie and Jeff Rutledge is mainly a holder.
Things could get worse next week if cornerback Darrell Green, who wants to be the league's highest-paid defensive player, and Jim Lachey, who wants to be the league's highest-paid offensive lineman, are added to the holdout list.
The 58 players in camp will hold their first two practices today.