"Snapping the ball is a lot like shooting free throws or playing golf," Ted Fritsch said yesterday after the Redskins had released him. "You have to get in a groove and I'm out of it."
How Fritsch got out of the groove and why he couldn't get back in it have been mysteries to both Fritsch and the Redskins for the past three weeks, during which time he has served up seven errant snaps on punts or field goals. That catalogue of errors forced Coach Jack Pardee to make a move yesterday. He gave up on Fritsch and signed an unproven rookie, Jeff Bostic, to replace him. Bostic, from Clemson, had been cut by the Eagles last week.
"I embarrassed myself and I embarrassed a lot of other people," Fritsch said, "but I sure didn't do it on purpose.
"I don't know what the problem is. It is something I have never had to deal with before. I worked double and triple hard to get it back. But it just hasn't come. I think I was trying to be so perfect that I wasn't snapping the ball the way I did in the past."
Fritsch, 30, hopes to get claimed by another team.
"I know I can come back," he said. "Maybe a layoff and getting away for a week or so will help. It'll eventually take some hard work, too, but when I do make it back, someone will get a hell of a center."
Fritsch hates to leave the Redskins. But he understands the predicament they were in.
"I can't blame Coach Pardee," Fritsch said. "If I was a coach -- and I'd like to be someday -- I'd have done the same thing. There is a lot of pressure on the team for the Dallas game Monday. He told me he ran out of time. He said he couldn't take a chance with me."
Fritsch's troubles started in the second preseason game, at Cleveland. He had a stomach virus and felt weak and tired. One snap flew over punter Mike Connell's head and another reached Connell on the bounce.
"I didn't worry then, though, because I knew it wouldn't happen again," he said. "Against Oakland the next week, I was more cautious."
Fritsch had two more bad snaps in that game.
Then in Tampa I said I wouldn't be as cautious. I told myself I'd just let it fly, and as everyone saw, it flew."
Two Fritsch snaps rocketed over Connell's head, both resulting in safeties. Another went over holder Theismann's on a field-goal attempt.
Fritsch's teammates understand the position his slump put the team in. But they will miss him a great deal.
Kicker Mark Moseley has never seen a kick snapper as good as Fritsch.
"Whatever it was that happened started out as a physical problem, but became a mental one," said Moseley, "and he could never figure out what was messing up his technique."