CARLISLE, Pa. -- Joe Gibbs has had better days. The Washington Redskins coach was short on gas and money yesterday.
Gibbs' day got off to a bad start when his NASCAR driver, Dale Jarrett, was in the lead in the DieHard 500 in Talladega, Ala., when his car ran out of gas. He wound up 23rd.
Then when Gibbs called roll when the veterans were due to report at training camp last night, his quarterback (Mark Rypien), his best defensive back (Darrell Green), his best offensive lineman (Jim Lachey) and his first draft pick (Desmond Howard) were missing.
The holdouts were expected because the Redskins are far apart with all four, but Gibbs still seemed upset.
When he was asked if Rypien's absence was his biggest problem, he said, "They're all big problems.
"I know we've got a got a pretty big problem when somebody holds out at this point," he said.
Gibbs said he always tells owner Jack Kent Cooke and general manager Charley Casserly to "take their best shot" and make their best offer at the start of training camp to get the players in camp.
"I think they took a legitimate shot. I think one of them was probably so far off, they never really got down to talking numbers, so I think that one was pretty much at an impasse. I think we took our best shot at least on two of them," he said.
The Redskins, though, don't seem close on any of the four. Green, Lachey and Howard would like to get in the $2 million range, while Rypien wants to be in the Dan Marino range ($4.43 million) as the highest-paid player in the league.
Holdouts are a way of life in the NFL, but Gibbs hasn't had to contend with many.
The year before he arrived, Hall of Famer John Riggins sat out the entire 1980 season before coming back the next year with the line, "I'm bored, I'm broke and I'm back."
After Cooke held the line on Riggins, he didn't have to deal with many veterans holdouts.
Rypien held out for 10 days last year before accepting a $1.25 million contract -- the team's highest base salary last year -- after Cooke called him a "bloody idiot."
Gibbs' ability to win without high draft picks and with unsung overachievers has helped keep the payroll down. The Redskins won the Super Bowl last year without having a player among the 25 highest-paid players in the league.
Expections are higher now, especially since the veterans think they're going to win free agency in court. Rypien, Green and Lachey figure they'd get big deals on the open market.
Howard, meanwhile, is part of the first-round logjam. The first three players drafted, Steve Emtman, Quentin Coryatt and Sean Gilbert, signed on draft day. Howard, the fourth pick, and nine of the next 10 players selected are unsigned.
All four holdouts figure to last a long time. Since the players don't get their base salary paychecks until the season begins, they're not losing big money now by holding out.
Meanwhile, the agents are low-keying the rhetoric. They may not want to rile Cooke, who showed little patience with Rypien's holdout last year.
NOTES: The Redskins will have to cut five players before their first veteran practice today because they have 86 players under contract, and they're allowed to practice with 81 players. The roster limit is 80, but they got an exemption for Joe Johnson because he played in the World League. . . . OL Raleigh McKenzie and KR Brian Mitchell agreed to new deals.