There were no palm branches strewn across Jay Schroeder's street yesterday. Only a solitary silver balloon tethered outside the Schroeders' that signaled Baby Schroeder's first birthday party. For the reserve quarterback who not only saved the day for the Redskins Monday but donned the wobbling crown of injured quarterback Joe Theismann, there wasn't a whole load of hoopla.
But in the neorustic town-house mini-hamlet where Schroeder resides in Reston, hoopla would have been a little hyperbolic.
"It's more of a cul-de-sac," said resident Jeff Fausett, explaining the subdued pace of the 10-house neighborhood. Fausett, a financial executive, lives across the sliver of road from the Schroeders. A friend of the family, he and his fiance' had accompanied Jay and Debbie Schroeder to the game ("We do their baby-sitting. In trade they give us tickets"). After Schroeder came out of the dressing room, said Fausett, about 200 people said, "You're my hero," "Congratulations"; there were "autographs and the whole thing."
"Debbie was pretty ecstatic during the game," he said. "She had a kind of quiet pride when he came out after the game ."
Kids in the neighborhood were excited.
"A lot of girls at my school think he's real cute," said South Lakes high schooler Alexandra Larsen, who lives in the hamlet and who says she has orders from classmates Edgar and Norma to get his autograph: "I have to keep my big mouth shut about where I live," she resolved.
"I thought it was really sad about Joe Theismann," said Alexandra, 15, who said she had left a good-will message with Theismann through a number provided by a radio station. "But I'm happy for Jay Schroeder. It's really neat that he got to be quarterback . . . He just talks like he's a neighbor, not a football star."
Schroeder "was great for a substitute," said Yan Shiba, a nearby resident and South Lakes High schooler who caught part of Monday's game between salad bar shleppings at the local Giant where he works. "I thought he was more aggressive than Theismann. But I can't say who's better. You can't tell by only a couple of minutes."
Matt Witlin, 17, whistling through on his 10-speed, paused to talk football: "It's always great to see some local hero -- someone who lives in your town . . . Jay did a really good job, considering he was coming off the bench."
Teacher Anita Holmes, picking up her niece at a baby sitter's in the neighborhood, said she was informed of Schroeder's ascent to the throne by her first- and second-grade students at nearby Dogwood Elementary School. "That's all they talked about -- about how Theismann got injured and how they were so glad Schroeder was able to step in and take it over . . . When I told them he lives in Reston, they all stood up and said, 'What! He lives in Reston?' "
The Schroeder kiddie party disbanded about dusk and the family and small guests spilled out. And Jay the hero was not Jay the gentleman.
"I don't know what you're doing out here," he said, approaching a couple of out-of-hamlet-ers. "I don't know why you're doing this!" And he stalked back to his pickup truck. The family was left alone.
"He's pretty quiet," said Fausett. "He was pretty happy with his performance . . ."
Schroeder "definitely surprised everybody last night," said Regina Ward, a cashier at the nearby Gulf station. "I don't think they anticipated having any faith in him. And the feeling was, with Theismann gone, the team's gonna go downhill."
"I got bored with Theismann to be honest," said property manager Diana Rogers, who was buying gas for her car. "It was exciting to watch this kid. But what a way to get a break . . ."
"He can't do nothing but get better," said electronic technician Jim Clark, nearby.
"I think he's cute," said neighbor Alexandra Larsen, absent-mindedly legging through some aerobics. "But, I mean, he's married and he has a kid."
And across the road, Jay Schroeder, Washington's newest hero, toiled through some task on the floor of his pickup, probably just beginning to think about the Pittsburgh Steelers