He is 39, pushing 40, and lives for now in the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge off Branch Avenue. His real name is Lander McCoy Bacon, but he goes by Coy.
Last year, after the Redskins waived him and Bacon returned to Ironton, Ohio, his hometown, he was "Boom Boom" to the hungry throngs who paid good money to watch the 270-pound former all-pro--wearing skin tight shorts and hightops--cocoa butt and airplane spin his opponents under the inglorious lights of professional wrestling. They loved his strength, loved his name; truly, Coy Bacon could have gone places.
"It was exciting to do, so I did it," he said. "I could have made good money if I had pursued it, getting out to Atlanta and on the wrestling tours. But I wanted to play football. That's what brought me here."
Here is with the 1-10 Washington Federals, the worst team in the U.S. Football League. To a 14-year veteran defensive end who was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and played with Los Angeles, San Diego, Cincinnati and Washington, here might seem like nowhere, but Bacon isn't complaining.
"If I didn't love it," he said, "I'd quit. I miss not winning. A losing season's tough, but it's still terrific. I'm enjoying myself. I'm still having fun playing ball. But, no doubt it could be a lot better if we won."
Bacon didn't graduate from college, didn't get drafted by an NFL club, didn't worry much about it. He played three years at Jackson State before joining the Charleston, W.Va., Rockets of the Continental Football League in 1965.
"All fun and games back then," he said. "Like most of the guys here, I wasn't so sure I understood what the game was, what I was getting into. You go around to different cities and knock heads and have a good time. You play ball and everything is good."
Unlike the thousands who watch him play each week, the wrestling fans never accused Coy Bacon of being fossilized. He won some and lost some; his wheels ran true; he roared and writhed and celebrated in his benign war of make-believe. But no more. Although he refuses to say whether body slams and headlocks pain as much as being bowled over by a pulling offensive guard, no hurt is greater than the defeats he's suffered through week after week.
Bacon said, "The problem with our team is that we're so young. It's nothing at all similar to the NFL because there are not many veterans around. The players here need the chance and the time to grow up."
Bacon ranks third on the team with 34 tackles. He has 27 assists and is second to tackle Robert Barber in sacks with 4 1/2.
"I'd say our biggest downfall has been youth," he said, his voice bowing to a near whisper. "Most of the guys here are not mature enough to know what's taking place in this life. What we need to do is stop losing and end the season on a good note. We need to learn how to play with pride."
Washington traded defensive end Drew Taylor yesterday to the Birmingham Stallions for undisclosed future draft choices. Taylor, who played five years in the Canadian Football League, started seven games this year for the Federals. He missed last week's game against Oakland with an ankle injury.