Nothing fuels the “athlete as dumbass” stereotype quite so effectively as Robojock quotes from locker- room interviews. In defense of the alleged dumbasses, environmental factors surely foster the low-quaciousness.

Imagine: a big herd of very large, very wet, very naked players and a bigger media horde, thrown together in a room far too small for either the herd or the horde, let alone both.

The players’ workday is done when the final gun sounds, and once in the locker room their body language fairly screams that they wish only to dry off, get dressed, and go home. (Seeking out the media hasn’t been in vogue here since Theismann turned his ankle.) Members of the working press, still in midshift, go about their quest for copy or soundbites, any soundbites, with equal tenacity. Therefore, the pat rejoinders—“We just didn’t get it done today,” etc.—that fill reporters’ type and tape quotas are often as not uttered while the utterer is drying his ‘nads.

Bottom line: Pithiness and introspection are about as abundant here as in a delivery room.

Even in the best of seasons after the best of games, it’s an astonishingly hideous setting. The figurative and literal climate for the Redskins/Giants contest—for-shit teams playing in for-shit weather (forget that CFL soiree, D.C. hosted a real grey cup)—rendered the bowels of RFK Stadium even more coarse than usual Sunday evening. The losers’ locker room even featured a mound of muddy, bloody adhesive tape that had been cut from the Skins’ skin, and included several dozen soiled bundles still holding the shape of the ankles they’d bolstered. The place looked as if the Khmer Rouge had partied there.

A room adjacent to the Redskins’ lockers is set up to handle quickie press conferences for the most sought-after interviewees. In less lean times, a steady stream of already-dried-and-dressed players and coaches would be ushered in, one at a time, by team flacks. The Redskins had no standout performers Sunday, so only head Coach Norv Turner and resuscitated rookie Heath Shuler took solo turns.

On paper, the loss to the Giants was a rather special beating for the hapless Redskins: It broke the team record for home losses in a season. As poorly as the Redskins played Sunday, the coach could have used his time at the mikes to tell the pressthat the Stanford band tackles as well as Andre Collins, that the Venus de Milo has surer hands than Desmond Howard, and that he’d rather pass a kidney stone than call another pass play for Cedric Smith.

But Turner is too damn nice to publicly ridicule players who aren’t living up to expectations. Since he ran out of polite ways to say his whole team sucks weeks ago, Turner’s press conference Sunday was an absolute exercise in banality, packing all the ambience and suspense of an uncontested divorce.

Typical Q: What about Heath’s performance? (Asked about six times during the five-minute confab.) Typical A: “I think Heath performed well.” (Given about a half-dozen times, though Shuler was 11-28, with one interception and no touchdowns against one of the league’s worst defenses.)

The baby-faced quarterback was every bit as insightless as his mentor. Shuler’s self-criticism, though lavish, never rose above insincerities like, “We didn’t win, so I didn’t play well.” For all his millions, Shuler, Gap’d out in baggy jeans, baggy jean jacket, and Timberlands, still came off a whole lot more like a guy who’d just quarterbacked his frat’s flag football team than an NFL signal caller.

Shuler’s stats in his second debut were about as ghastly as those he registered in his first start against the Cowboys (11 for 30, 96 yards) back in Week 5. After Shuler went the entire first period of the Giants game without a completion, Gus Frerotte, who’d been yanked by Turner last week in the middle of a less dismal outing, actually started warming up on the sidelines.

Turner never put Gus in, however, and after the game the coach indicated that Frerotte has been purged from the QB picture for the rest of this season.

Too bad for Frerotte, because the Skins now face the crap of the NFC crop not once but twice, with two meetings with Tampa Bay in the next four weeks. The Redskins’ other December foes, the Arizona Cardinals (5-7) and the Los Angeles Rams (4-8), present only slightly more imposing opposition.

Sadly, Tampa Bay has every right to be more giddy than the locals about the upcoming games: The historically hapless Buccaneers’ overtime win against the Vikings last week gave them a one-game lead over the Redskins in the race for second-sorriest squad in the NFC.

When Buccaneers Coach Sam Wyche was coaching the Bengals, he actually led an asinine and failed movement to deny female reporters access to NFL locker rooms. Wyche has lost at least 10 games a year since taking the Tampa Bay job, and, not coincidentally, isn’t nearly the self-righteous crusader he was in Cincinnati.

There’s been absolutely no hint from Turner or Redskins management that the head coach’s job security hinges on how the team fares against December’s sorry slate. If Turner doesn’t go, Charley Casserly, who proved as prepared for the salary cap as Homestead was for Hurricane Andrew, will have to. Jack Kent Cooke, remember, predicted a 9- or 10-win season. Somebody’s going to take the fall for 1994.

Casserly surely deserves to get tossed, but the durability of Turner’s Teflon coating is amazing. Especially when considering that after the season-opening blowout to Seattle (now a 5-7 team) he promised everybody that the Redskins would “be much better” by season’s end. Even with a few weeks left, it’s not too early to say that Turner’s verbal contract has been breached.

The Tampa Bay coach is in an opposite position: No matter what Wyche does in his remaining games, he’s all but guaranteed to get a pink slip. Florida-lovin’ Jimmy Johnson is tanned and rested, and Wyche’s sorry legacy will make Tampa Bay a perfect place for the ex- Cowboys coach to build on the worst-to-first reputation he earned in Dallas.

Of course, if Johnson decides he wants to take over a team closer to the bottom, and Jack Kent Cooke is willing to listen, things could get interesting around here. What better place for Johnson to get back at former boss and ex-friend Jerry Jones than Washington? It’s been too long since the Redskins had a coach who genuinely hated Dallas.