Casserly contradicts Clark on contract's conditions PRO FOOTBALL

September 10, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- This was supposed to be the week that Gary Clark would duel with his old teammate, Darrell Green.

Instead, the Phoenix Cardinals wide receiver has spent a lot of time debating with his former general manager, Charley Casserly, in a football version of point-counterpoint about his decision to leave the Washington Redskins last April.

Clark, who departed Washington to sign a three-year, $6 million deal, fired the opening salvo Wednesday when he said he might have stayed if Joe Gibbs hadn't resigned as the Redskins' coach.

Clark suggested he was willing to sign for $1.5 million if Casserly had made that his original offer instead of $1 million.

Casserly, who was at a league meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, returned to his office yesterday and contradicted Clark.

Casserly said Clark wanted $2.5 million to match Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers, the league's highest-paid receiver.

Casserly also said that in August 1992, he went to Clark and offered him a four-year deal that started with a $1 million base, but included $300,000 a year in incentives and would have averaged $1.45 million a year. Casserly said he stressed that was only his beginning offer as a place to start negotiations.

Casserly said it was a salary-cap decision not to match the Phoenix offer. The Redskins have the second-highest payroll in the league and will have to cut it next year when the cap kicks in.

In Phoenix, Clark repeated yesterday that he wasn't happy with the way Casserly conducted the negotiations.

"After they offered me that initial contract, I said, 'Why play games? Give your best offer,' " Clark said. "I told him up front I didn't want to do all that negotiating."

Clark said he could understand the salary-cap decision.

"I think the main thing with Washington is that they wanted to get Reggie [White]," he said. "They had to cut, and they pushed me to come here. It helped them out because it took that money off their payroll."

As it turned out, the Redskins also dropped out of the White negotiations when the Green Bay Packers offered him a a four-year, $17 million deal.

Despite the circumstances of his departure, Clark said he's eager to play again at RFK Stadium.

"It would mean a lot to to go back home and play well in front of them [his former teammates] as well as the fans," he said. "I want to let them know I'm still as cranky and cocky as ever. They called me that fiery little guy and I haven't changed."

Casserly praised Clark for his play on the field.

"He gives you 100 percent on the field," Casserly said. "He's a tough, productive guy. We offered him a contract. We didn't want him to leave."

Clark's battle with Green, a player he practiced against for eight years, should be one of the best matchups of the season.

Clark remembers when he joined the Redskins in 1985 that he was surprised to find out how fast Green was.

"I felt pretty cocky," Clark said. "[I thought] 'Darrell Green? I'll run by him.' I told the quarterback to throw it out there and I'd get it. Guess who caught the ball? I was playing defense very quickly."

Green said, "It'll be exciting. I guarantee you the ball will be coming his way. Hopefully, we'll be out there to get it."

In his first game with the Cardinals last Sunday, Green caught five passes against the Philadelphia Eagles, but dropped four. Clark said he tried to run before he caught the balls.

Clark said Green doesn't say much on the field, but he expects to be chattering with his former teammates during the game.

"If I get tackled on their sidelines, I'm sure somebody will kick me, spit on me," Clark said. "I expect it, but I'll look forward to it. I'll probably get a chuckle out of it. In some other stadium, I'd be ready to fight, but there, I'll laugh."

NOTES: OL Moe Elewonibi, hospitalized with a staph infection in his right forearm, isn't expected to be released until tomorrow, but the Redskins say he'll still play Sunday. They said the swelling went down yesterday.

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