Getting into bed the night after a Redskins game can be dangerous for Cheryl Theismann.
"Joe's muscles have been so tight, that when they start to unwind he sometimes gets spasms," said the wife of the Redskins' quarterback, demonstrating a wild fling of the arms. "I'm used to getting punched or poked or pushed out of bed."
"And everyone thinks our lives are so glamerous," she sighed, half in jest, to an audience of a dozen women gathered this week in a Reston real-estate office. The women, there because they were "sick of asking questions during football games," as one put it, each paid $25 for the two-day, four-hour course in football taught by three Redskins wives.
Gustie Houston, wife of safety Ken Houston, and Sharon Moseley, wife of place kicker Mark Moseley, also shattered some of the glamerous myths about marriage to a professional football player.
"We never plan anything for a Saturday night," said Houston. The players leave town Saturday for an away game or spend the night in a Virginia hotel before a home game.
"They do a bed check, and the players must be in bed at 11 p.m. or they get fined. One time I hadn't seen Kenny in two months. I got into town on a late flight and rushed to the hotel to see him. It was 11:02 when I knocked on his door just to give him a quick smack, and when he saw me he almost closed my nose in the door.
"But how many women can say they know their husbands are in bed by 11 if they go away on a trip?" she said with a laugh. "And they're so uptight before a game anyway, it's better that they stay at a hotel."
"There are pressures," admitted Sharon Moseley, who said she personally feels she's let the team down if her husband misses a kick. "We don't like to think we'll be somewhere else tomorrow and have to pack up quickly."
Moseley also has the honor of washing Mark's lucky socks before each game. Most players, said Theismann, are "extremely superstitious." Joe, she said, is careful to tape his legs exactly the same as he did in college.
"Your husband needs you to be very positive throughout the season," said Theismann. "You learn to take care of problems at home by yourself, since he is so involved with the game."
But despite groans about such things as stuffing their freezers with ice packs for sore muscles and hardly seeing their husbands six months out of the year, the wives' dedication to the game of football -- and the players they live with -- was evident throughout the session.
There was no mistaking the glow on Theismann's face when she said, "I'm the quarterback's wife . . . Yes, it's exciting, and I love the game."
"When the fans mob the man you love and shower their affection on him, it's a wonderful feeling," said Houston.
"Unless they're too shapely," interjected Theismann.
In addition to glimpses into their personal lives, the wives explained the fundamentals of the game, beginning with the basics.
"This is a football," said Moseley, holding up an official game ball. "At every home game the Redskins have to provide 24 new balls and an additional 15 to 16 practice balls.
"They cost about $32 each, which is why, after they kick it, they run to get it. They used to give them away."
During the first class, Ken Houston made a special appearance wearing the new team uniform. He explained the equipment each player wears, and, to the delight of the audience, pulled down his socks and hiked up a trouser leg to show how the taping is done.
"Yes, the players shave their legs," said Moseley, laughingly noting that her husbands legs "look better than mine." "That way it doesn't hurt when they rip the tape off."
Following their husband's positions, Theismann explained offense, Houston, defense, and Moseley talked about special teams.
"Some people think our husbands don't have to work during the week," said Theismann. "But it's a business and our livelihood, and they work seven days a week."
Monday is "bumps-and-bruises" day, when the players go in for treatment of their injuries. Tuesday they watch films, of which Joe Theismann takes some home to study.
"Sometimes we run them backwards because the kids think that's funny," said Cheryl, who serves as the projectionist.
The men practice the rest of the week. Thursday they are weighed, and for every pound over their desired weight they are penalized $50. Fines are also levied for missing the bus or the plane, missing meals in training camp or being late for practice or meetings.
"It comes out of their checks, so you really feel it," Theismann said.
"one way to begin learning about football is to watch the quarterback, suggested Theismann, who learned the game while she worked in Notre Dame College's athletic department.
"Watch how the play opens up, see if he has someone to throw the ball to and follow the ball," she said. "That's how I started to learn, but I do look back to see if Joe gets up."
"Pick out a particular player, and watch everything he does," advised Houston, who holds a doctorate in mathematics and teaches at the University of Houston. "It's a numbers game, of advancing yards and scoring points."
"Start with a good attitude," said Moseley, who was a physical education teacher. "Don't sit down to watch a game certain you are going to hate it.
"Go to a live game to feel the emotion of the crowd and be part of it. Listen to the commentators, but don't take everything they say as gospel."
The wives will be giving a similar three-session course starting this weekend at Woodward & Lothrop in Tyson's Corner. Right now, they said, the fees they're earning just about pay for babysitters. But if they do wind up making a profit, they plan to distribute it to charity.
"It's fun for us," said Theismann. "And we want women to be able to really enjoy the game. Women don't have to play football to enjoy it -- they just have to understand it."
"And once they understand it," said Houston, "they might get into it more than their husbands."