It was the day before the Super Bowl and Bob Piper of Northeast Washington was pacing around his San Diego hotel room, studying Doug Williams' daily schedule and reviewing his contract.

"I got a good feeling that this will be Doug's game," Piper said during a telephone interview. "But frankly, I can't think about the game. I got to keep my eye on Doug and his business."

Piper is Doug Williams' personal manager, the man most responsible for keeping the star quarterback cool during the pregame media blitz. A lot of people say they like the way Doug has handled himself before the cameras. Give Piper a lot of credit for that.

"We agreed that Doug would not try to become a Hollywood star and he has worked hard to refuse requests for television show appearances before the game," Piper said.

"He is cooperating with the media during the time allotted for that, but basically we're keeping a straight schedule: breakfast, meetings, time with family, practice and back to hotel and then, at midnight, its curfew."

As we all know, the Piper program worked.

Piper, 45, is a native of Rayville, La., and a graduate of Doug's alma mater, Grambling State University. Washington has been his home for years. During the early 1970s, he was a winning basketball coach at Western High School (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts), and as head of the Grambling State University Athletic Foundation, he worked closely with Sugar Ray Leonard to devise ways to get star athletes more involved with this youth of this city.

When Doug joined the foundation after graduating from Grambling, he and Piper became friends. When Doug moved to Washington, Piper became his manager.

Not many people have heard of Piper's sports management and consulting company, Resources Link, a few blocks north of Union Station. But that began to change on Sunday.

"It's been busy as a beehive around here," Joyce Outtz, a researcher with Piper's company, said yesterday.

"People are calling for Doug's 'Touch of Class' T-Shirts {which Piper created}, they are calling to set up speaking engagements for Doug and calling just to say congratulations," she said.

For the past two weeks, however, only one thing seems to have been on Piper's mind: trying to get Doug to smile when he was by himself.

"You have to understand that, right now {Saturday} Doug has not enjoyed what he was doing," Piper said. "He's performed well, but he has not enjoyed it. Tragedies, setbacks, injuries -- it just feels like Sunday could flush all that away."

When Doug's family arrived in San Diego from Zachary, La., on Friday, Doug began to smile more. His 5-year-old daughter, Ashley Monique, was so happy to see him that she grabbed him so hard "she almost broke his neck," Piper said.

Doug is a homebody of sorts who likes to be surrounded by close friends and family, whether in Washington or down home in Louisiana, Piper said. While in San Diego, not surprisingly, Doug began to blossom and actually began having fun with the media.

"The one thing about Doug is that he knows there is more to life than football," Piper added.

While other superstar players were surrounded by entourages and represented by big-name agents, Doug was being watched by three relatively unknown men: his brother Robert, a supervisor in the Baton Rouge public school system; Judge Eddie Sapir of New Orleans, a family friend, and Piper.

The strategy was simple: Don't let Doug get weighed down carrying "burdens" that don't exist.

"My only concern is for his happiness," Piper said. "I just want to make sure that there are people around him whom he feels comfortable with. The Redskins have provided the right environment for him to work in. My job is to provide the right environment for him to live in. If, after the game on Sunday, there is a smile on his face, then I will smile."

"There is one other thing," Piper added. "Doug is the kind of guy where success and defeat both go to his feet -- not his head. He always keeps his feet on the ground.

"What I would like to see this one time, assuming victory on Sunday, is that we allow it to go to his head."

You got it, Doug.