When the games are over and the cheering stops, when the last bubbly brew has been consumed in a mostly empty stadium parking, lot the Washington Redskins can -- and must -- go home again.
They live scattered around the beltway, in condominiums and townhouses, on farms and in furnished apartments, in quiet suburban subdivisions and on luxurious country estates.
Some study Xs and Os surrounded by chattering children. Mary are single and live alone or with a friend or cluster together to save on food and rent.
Their life styles are as varied as the positions they play, and recently, several Redskins opened their private lives for a public peek.
The view from Dallas Hichman's front window high on a hill in Virginia's Loudoun County takes the breath away on a frosty fall morning.
Green fields, dotted with glorious gold trees, frame the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. Bustling Leesburg is a five-minute drive from Hickman's nine acres but it might as well be five hours. Hickman bought the cozy two-bedroom farmhouse from teammate Bill Brundige last year.
"I can sit here, sip a beer, play my music as loud as I want, and just stare out the window," says Hickman, a four-year man who still does his best work on the special teams. "It's Lonely at times, but then, I like that too."
But not that lonely. Hickman, a tall blound man with a full beard, has his share of "lady friends." There also is Orion, his German Shepherd, Tigger the cat and good neighbors Sam and Effie Baughan.
"They are," Hickman says, "the nicest people I know. They're a retired couple, and they treat me like a son. When I'm at training camp, they feed the animals and water my plants. The other night I called up and asked Effie if I could borrow her iron. She said, 'Dallas, just bring the pants over, I'll iron them for you.'"
When he is not practicing at Redskin Park, Hickman spends his free time hunting, cleaming his house and occasionally working on his 1939 Packard.
He no longer spends most nights in George-town, he insists. "Last year, I was into the night life a lot. I had just broken up with a lady, and I guess I was celebrating my freedom. I'd go out two or three nights a week, I'd get in late. I had a lot of bartender friends in Georgetown, oh yeah!
"It just got to the point where you would try and wear the streets down, but sooner or later the streets wore me dowm. So I don't do that much any more. I'll visit friends, things like that. But I'm into more self-discipline now."
Hs is also into dreaming. All around the tastefully decorated house are pictures of boats. Three recent issues of Yachting Magazine are on the coffee table. "My dream books," Hickman calls them.
"When all this is over, I'd like to own my own boat some day. Maybe run a charter service or something. A 65-foot schooner. Yeah, that would be nice.
"But this life is nice, too. I feel very fortunate that I'm able to do what I can do, make a little money for the future and enjoy my life. I try not to get caught up in it or lose perspective of what all this means. "I'm not just a football player. I'm a normal person, just like anyone else."
Donnie Harris apologizes as he invites a visitor into the Reston townhouse he shares and owns with teammate Gerard Williams. "Sorry about the living room, but if your photographer comes back next week, we should have the furniture in."
For now, the living room is all carpet, but that will change soon. "Once we get the place fixed up, it's going to be real nice," says Harris, a second-year safety who is the talkative bubbly half of the partnership.
Williams is shy, preferring to watch the Dating Game while his chatty roommate talks about the pleasures of being young, single and a Redskin in a city that adores its football team.
Harris and Williams share the utility bills, groceries, and dish washing. Williams does a lot of the cooking -- "Lemar Parrish gave me a great recipe for shrimp fried rice," he says.Harris is a whiz on spaghetti and meatballs.
"We look at each other about like brothers," Harris says. "There's nothing I don't have that he can't have and it works the other way, too."
And so, they drive to work together. They shop together. They hit the nightspots together, places like The Apple Tree and Fox-trappe. Teammates say both are popular with women.
Donnie Harris," says former teammate and neighbor Dennis Johnson, "walks through a hotel lobby and they all come after him. They love him. I've never seen anything like it."
"Yeah, I have some friends," Harris says, "but I'm too young to get involved in any deep kind of relationship right now. I'm 24. I have time to get married. There are other things I want to accomplish. I want to own some property. I want to make some investments. I don't want to have to want for anything."
And so, Harris and Williams insist, their private lives are rather dull. "We spend a lot of time right here in this house, talking football," Williams says. "We play the same positions. I was the nickel back, now Donnie is. I try and relax as much as I can. I watch a lot of television. I like my music.
"Nah," he continues, "we don't have very many parties. People burn your carpet up at parties. Who needs that?"
It is alomst 6 p.m., and Jean Fugett is in a hurry.
He gets lucky, finding a parking space for his Porsche a block from Bacon Hall on the George Washington University campus. Now he's moving quickly, bounding up to the second-floor domestic relations classroom as quickly as his sore knee will allow.
O.J. runs through airports. Fugett dashes to law school, five nights a week.
He is 10 minutes late as he slips through the door and slides into his chair. Dean Deward Potts continues lecturing on the nuances of determining child legitimacy in messy divorces.
Dean Potts casts a sidelong glance at Fugett, but says nothing. He is used to dealing with football players who would be lawyers. During a break, he tells Fugett, "I got (Eddie) LeBaron through and I'll get you through, too.But let me ask you something: Just how hard does that ball come into your hands when (Joe) Theismann's throwing?"
Fugett, the All-Pro tight end, smiles. "You mean that pass I dropped Sunday?"
Dean Potter blushes, "Aaah, I was just curious," he says.
The class is over by 8 p.m., and 40 minutes later, Fugett slumps in a chair in his home, waiting for wife Ann, a law school graduate, to finish making dinner. She is serving fish, after a quick call to Fugett's mother in Baltimore for the proper recipe.
While the fish fries, Fugett unwinds from another frenetic day. It started with a 10 a.m. meeting at Redskin Park, followed by a 2 1/2-hour practice, an hour of treatment and whirlpool for his sore knee and the long drive from Redskin Park to class.
"Why do I do it? Well, it's something I've always wanted to try. My brother's a lawyer. I see the type of things he's doing and it appeals to me.
"Football is a physical thing for me. So during the day, I work out phusically, and during the night, I work out mentally."
Fugett's life is filled with other responsibilities. He's the Redskin player representative. Occasionally, he doew television work. He's worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and WDVM-TV. He's six months away from becoming a father.
But it is a good life, he will tell you. The Porsche and a Mercedes are parked at his $100,000-plus Potomac home.
His face, familiar to television viewers, is known all over town.A stop at the neighborhood gas station on the way home from school requires 20 minutes because the owner insists Fugett admire his new wrecker.
"This adulation is nice, especially at first, because it was so new," he said. "After awhile it became a hassle, but then you get to the stage where you understand it and, depending on your mood, you deal with it. The least I can do is tell them we're going to win on Sunday.
"At least law school brings you back to reality. Nobody gives you anything because you're a football player. I'll get my degree hopefully in three more years. Sure, it's hard work. There are times I wonder why I'm doing it. I guess the answer is because I enjoy it."
The last time rookie linebacker Don Hover was to submit to an interview, he was sweating out every call to his cramped room at the Dulles Marriott, wondering if the ring would end his professional career.
Hover, wife Tania and 3-year-old son Andy seemed to live in suspended animation last August. It ended the day Jack Pardee told the kid from Washington state to rest easy, he'd be around for awhile.
So Hover moved his growing family into a furnished apartment in Reston. He pays $300 a month rent and $100 for furniture. He signed a three-month lease.
The first two months of the regular season were a joy for the Hovers. They spent days and nights off window-shopping at Tyson's, touring museums and marveling at the monuments. They had a car, supplied by a local dealer in exchange for season tickets. For the first time in their lives, hefty paychecks came in regularly.
The checks are still coming, and Hover immediately takes them to the bank. He can earn $40,000 this season, with the various bonuses and incentives in his contract. He would like to save at least half.
"About the only thing I've bought is a rocking chair and a little television," he says. He's sent his family to his in-laws in Washington state, because the second Hover child is due next month.
All alone and lonely as can be.
"It was bad enough in training camp, but at least there, I was busy from the time I woke up until the time I fell into bed at night. Now, I'm at the Park for six or seven hours a day, and it's tough to come home to an empty apartment. I'm running up some awfully big telephone bills.
"A lot of guys like to eat out all the time, hit the bars, that kind of thing. That's not for me. I don't believe that just because you're making good money it means you have to go out and spend it. When the lease runs out, I'll stay at (Mark) Murphy's. I'll sleep on the couch. It'll save some money.
"I want a house and some property to be paid off. Eventually, I'd like to be a school teacher, and it's hard to get those kind of things on a teacher's salary. I look at football as a means to an end. Don't get me wrong. I love playing, but I also know it can't last forever.
"I'm not a flashy kind of person. I like to wear a good pair of boots, jeans and a work shirt. That's just how I am. That's all I really need.
"No, nobody really recognizes me, and I kind of like it that way. I don't like people to make a fuss over me just because I'm a Redskin."