The only thing you'll probably remember Gary Anderson for is his three holding penalties against the Philadelphia Eagles a month ago. The Redskins, who lost that game, knew how to deal with their grabby offensive lineman. They cut him.
That's life in the NFL. Produce and stay. Flub it up, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
But the Gary Anderson story continues, for him and for dozens like him -- NFL players who thought they had a job until they woke up and found they didn't. Unless you are a proven regular, or better yet, a star, making the 45-man regular-season roster guarantees nothing except a tenuous existence.
The first thing Anderson reads now in his morning paper is the sports transactions. They are, in a way, want ads. Who got cut? Who got hurt? Anderson reads with morbid curiosity.
"Look, I don't hope that anyone gets hurt," he said, meaning anyone in particular. "I just look at what could get me a job. Who has the injuries and might need offensive linemen."
Anderson has been this route before. The Lions cut him the second week of the 1978 season. Three weeks later, Anderson signed with the Saints, who released him during training camp in 1979. But getting cut in camp isn't the same as getting cut during the season. Teams are more likely to give tryouts in the preseason. And each veteran player, reguardless of experience, gets paid $475 per week in camp. During the season, a player is paid his contractual salary weekly -- and the money stops when he is cut.
"You only get paid for 16 weeks," Anderson said. "You miss a few weeks and, well, you know, I wasn't one of the highest paid players. But for me, missing a week of playing is like other people missing a month. And I've got bills to pay."
Anderson speaks of security, or the lack of it, in the NFL. Security is a hot issue with Ed Garvey, the director of the NFL Players Association. He believes that a player who makes the team should be paid for the season even if subsequently cut. Garvey, who will negotiate the players basic contract before the 1982 season, wants 50 percent of all television and attendance revenues to be set aside for, among other things, salaries and guaranteed contracts.
"If a player is tied to a club, the club should be tied to the player," Garvey said.
"There is a tremendous pressure on athletes," he continued. "It's a terrible problem. Atletes tend to be very insecure. They always have someone competing for their job and they can be fired for any reason."
But Gil Brandt, the Cowboys director of player personnel, says players need an incentive. "My first thought would be that I don't think players should have guaranteed security," he said. "If a player makes the team and stops performing, you don't want to keep him around."
"Nonsense," Garvey said. "It doesn't make any sense to say that a player won't try if he gets a fair deal. In fact, you give someone a fair deal and he'll put out for you."
Garvey said he's bothered by what can happen, financially and emotionally, to a player released during the season.
"It's everything from not being able to make the house payments to telling the wife she's not going to be shopping at Saks anymore to the embarrassment of having the whole world know you've been fired," he said.
Ted Fritsch faced the problem of what to tell his friends after the Redskins unloaded him on their final preseason cut.
"I wasn't looking forward to going home because I didn't want to see my neighbors," said Fritsch, who since has been hired as the Redskin special teams coach.
"They ask, 'You were cut?' I said, 'I guess you could say that.' I know of some people who were probably pretty jealous of me being a pro athlete and when I was released, they were glad to see it. I made a list of the people I didn't want to see for a couple of weeks."
Ed Burns was the Saints' third-string quarterback until he was released after the second game to make room for place-kicker Benny Ricardo. Unlike Gary Anderson, Burns is married and has four children.
Burns still is in New Orleans, working in sales for a company that makes casings for oil rigs. "I gave some thought to packing up and heading home but I figure for the time being, anything can happen with the Saints," he said. "Coach (Dick) Nolan said I might be recalled. That could be wishful thinking, but there's always hope."
Hope, false or otherwise, is a constant. It's why Anderson and Burns and the others endure the humbling experience of getting on the phone and pleading their cases, often finding it impossible to get past the coach's secretary.
"I try to contact people I know," said Anderson. "I don't have an agent.
It's a lot of who you know. You try to get a break."
One person Anderson knows is Jack Christiansen, his coach at Stanford, now an assistant with Seattle. Anderson didn't get a break. "He told me they have extra offensive linemen," he said.
When the contacts fail, you keep trying. This isn't fun.
"I've called a lot of teams," Anderson said. "If I don't know a coach, they say they've got me in their computer."
The worst part is the waiting. After word gets out that a player is free, after the teams have taken his call and perhaps passed the message along past the secretary's desk, there's little he can do.
"I just sit and wait," Anderson said. "It's not the greatest thing to go through."
Some players try to stay busy to ease their minds somewhat and, more important, to face the possibility that their careers are over. Burns, for example, works as a beer distributer during the offseason. It's a slow time of year, he said, so he's helping a friend lay carpet.
Jim Krahl, a defensive tackle signed by the 49ers after his third game, and cut two weeks later, is trying to establish business contacts.Punter Eddie Hare, dropped from the injured reserve list by the Patriots after the second game, is doing the same, though he'll get a tryout from the Browns next week. Running back Jim Culbreath, cut by the Eagles after the seventh game, said he has other opportunities outside football.
All would like to play in the NFL again. All are being realistic, as well.
"I've always enjoyed football but I've never let it rule my life," said Hare, the Patriot punter in 1979. "A lot of guys built their whole life around football and when that's gone, that's all there is."
Krahl, who has played with three teams in three seasons, has just about had enough.
"If I get a chance (to play again) and nothing else turns up, I'll probably go with it," he said. "But if I get a job with a future and security I wouldn't get back into it."
The hassle doesn't stop when a player signs. When linebacker Derrel Luce made the Viking team in September, his wife, son and dog journeyed from Waco, Tex., to join him. After four games, Luce was cut. Back to Waco. Two weeks later, the Lions signed Luce.
"It's a lot easier when it happend during training camp," Debbie Luce said. "Now I have to pack the baby's bed and the high chair again."