The letter arrived soon after the newspaper story came out reporting that Terry Anderson had a nice furry female tarantula for a pet.

"It was from Coach Jack Pardee," said Anderson. "He said that Dickinson College and the Redskins don't like pets in training camp and that I should leave it at home.

"I wanted to bring her to camp but I didn't want to have any problems. So I left her at home with my girl-friend. She (the tarantula) doesn't like girls that much, but my girfriend will be careful."

Anderson, a Redskin wide receiver, special teamer and kick returner, insists he is not flaky, or unbalanced. He sees nothing wrong with liking spiders.

"I like the way they weave their webs and I like to see the webs in the morning with dew on them," Anderson said. "I think it's a pretty nice part of nature.

"The tarantula (called Matilda) doesn't weave that many webs but she can put together a good one."

Anyway, says Anderson, the whole thing has been spun out of proportion.

"A reporter lived in the same complex as I do (in Florida)," said Anderson, "and he heard about my pet. So he did a story on me and they took pictures.

"The one they used, with her on my forehead, well, that was one of the few times she has ever been there. Usually, I just let her on the bed and let her crawl. She normally just sits on a pillow.

"It got me attention, which is okay. But my main goal is to be known as a football player, to be a starter for the Washington Redskins."

Wtihout the tarantula around, the only way Anderson can attract attention, he realizes, is through being spectacular on the practice field. If courage is a start toward the goal, he already is making progress.

"He isn't afraid of anything," said General Manager Bobby Beathard, who drafted Anderson on the 12th round (321st player) for Miami two years ago. "He's valuable because he plays a number of positions. He's a receiver, a returner and he is good on those special teams.

Anderson, who played both quarterback and halfback at Bethune-Cookman, is only 5 feet 9 and 182 pounds, but he is quick and confident. He averaged 23 yards a return as a Dolphin rookie, then was cut six weeks into last season, when the Redskins picked him up.

"My highlight, I guess," he said, "was when I caught that fake punt pass (from Mike Bragg) against Atlanta and brought it to the four.

"But that was the only pass I caught last year. When I left for the season, I looked at the pass-catching chart and I was the only one on it who didn't have one (as a wide receiver).

"So I wrote on it, 'Wait Till Next Year,' hoping that would catch their attention. I wanted to give them something to remember me by until I could come to camp and prove I can catch and run with the ball.I've worked hard in the offseason. I don't want to be a receiver who never has a pass thrown to him."

Right now, Anderson is playing behind Ricky Thompson in the Redskins' wide receiver quartet, which also includes John McDaniel and Danny Buggs, who is not yet in camp.

"I can see myself winning a starting spot or at least playing a lot," Anderson said. "I hope I can return kicks behind Tony (Green), too. They just have to give me a chance."

And by the way, does Matilda ever bite?

"She's never bitten me," Anderson said, "but I had this male tarantula. He was always getting on his back legs and preparing to strike. I got rid of him quick.

"As soon as training camp is over, I'll send for her. She doesn't take much care. Just a box and food. As pets go, she's a snap."

Sure. CAPTION: Picture, Terry Anderson wants a home for pet tarantula in Washington. By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post