Howard Slusher, the agent that teams love to hate, once again is using his favorite intimidation technique in contract negotiations: No deal, no player. On Slusher's advice, Cowboy All-Pro defensive tackle Randy White and the Cincinnati Bengals' No. 1 pick, Ricky Hunley, an All-America linebacker at Arizona, have yet to report to camp.
Because the Cowboys had such a tough go with Slusher in 1981, the last time White's contract was up, club president Tex Schramm has hired Marshall Simmons, a Dallas attorney, to handle the negotiations. Employing an outside negotiator was a Dallas first; VP Gil Brandt has always handled Cowboy contracts. "I guess I am pretty stubborn," Slusher says.
White is supposed to make $330,000 in '84, the last year of his current contract, but wants $750,000 a year starting now. If the Cowboys don't meet his terms by Aug. 25, White says he'll report to the team, play out his option and then shop himself around.
In Cincinnati, the Bengals, who selected Hunley partly because he had no visible agent—he quietly hired Slusher right before the draft—have broken off contract talks, and Slusher hints Hunley may hold out the entire season. Hunley wants in excess of $2 million over four years. Mike Brown, the Bengals' assistant G.M., is frustrated—but not bitter.
"I have a high regard for Howard," Brown says. "He's very well qualified to represent players. He knows what he's doing, and if you look at his track record, generally he has made it very good for his clients. That doesn't mean we're going to be able to make a deal with him. I respect him. I don't always agree with him."
As for the rest of the Cowboys, they're squarely on White's side. They want him back—and now. The defensive linemen were the first to protest his absence; they wore armbands with a big black 54 on them. Then most of the veterans got into the act. Some of them stuck tape with the question WHERE'S 54? on the backs of their helmets. Other helmets provided the answer: FISHIN'.
When the players gathered later to watch a team highlight film, they chanted at Schramm, "Where's Randy Where's Randy?" Schramm shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "You guys tell me where Randy is."
Ron Springs shot back, "Seven figures will find him."
Earl Campbell is a man of many moods. He spent most of '83 griping about the Oiler organization and plotting a fast exit out of town. Offers came from New England, Washington, New Orleans, San Diego, Miami and Buffalo. People close to the Oilers say there were two reasons for the running back's disenchantment: He thought too much about money, and he listened too much to agent Mike Trope. During the off-season Campbell severed his ties with Trope and fell back in love with the Oilers.
"I realized money isn't the thing," Campbell said just before Week 1 of training camp. "I've said I wanted to be traded, but I can remember a lot of times talking to God about it. I'd say, 'Please don't let it happen.' If I had been traded, I might have retired."