One is on leave of absence from a television station in Seattle. One tackled Kelvin Bryant 12 times. Four played in the Rose Bowl. And one spent some time with the National Science Foundation -- in Antarctica.

They are members of the Washington Commandos, who will open their Arena Football League season tonight in Pittsburgh against the Gladiators (9 p.m., WWDC-AM-1260) and want to show that the NFL does not have the only 1,260 football players in America.

The Commandos will see a familiar face tonight: former Washington Federals quarterback Mike Hohensee, who will start for the Gladiators. Former NFL kicker Nick Mike-Mayer is playing and Federals coach Ray Jauch is coaching for the Chicago Bruisers squad, and former Maryland player Steve Trimble is on the roster of the Denver Dynamite.

Commandos Coach Bob Harrison said that the smaller (50 yards) field will not have much of an effect on Hohensee's passes. "He likes those short, precise throws, anyway," said Harrison, who reported no injuries for the Commandos after yesterday's final, light workout at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

Michael Calhoun, who played for Rice and shares the Southwest Conference record for touchdown passes in a season (21) with Tommy Kramer and Chuck Hixson, will start at quarterback for the Commandos.

Tonight's game will involve several debuts: the league; Harrison, the first black pro head coach since Willie Wood in the Canadian Football League, and the game itself, which features eight-on-eight play, a running clock and the chance to advance the football after missed field goals.

Harrison has said he is not worried about basing his coaching future on how the Commandos play this season, although he did add: "If we go out there and stink the place up, it might be a detriment" to getting hired elsewhere.

"I'm used to being first," he said. "{Being coach} more or less confirms that I have confidence in my ability."

For the players, most of whom have had their professional careers limited to free agent tryout camps and exhibition games in the NFL and USFL, arena football will provide another opportunity to play.

"Considering my size {5 feet 7, 180 pounds}, I knew the NFL was a long shot," running back/defensive back Richard DuPree said Wednesday. He is on leave from television station KOMO in Seattle, where he has been a sports producer for four years. "They were really understanding," said DuPree, who has extended his two-week vacation into a six-month sabbatical.

If the league is successful this season, it will expand from four teams and six games to eight teams and 16 games, leaving DuPree to "make a decision on what the heck I'm going to do."

The Commandos also feature lineman Pete Stubbs, a DeMatha High School and Duke University graduate who registered a dozen unassisted tackles on Bryant as a Duke freshman linebacker. Lineman Jon Roehlk and wide receiver/defensive back Nathan Creer were on Iowa teams that went to the Rose Bowl in 1982 and 1986.

Running back/linebacker Brett Wilson was on the Illinois team that went to the Rose Bowl in 1984. And DuPree made the 1982 Rose Bowl as a walk-on at Washington.

Meanwhile, Clarence Walton was working as a general field assistant for the National Science Foundation, helping scientists in Antarctica. "It's definitely a big change," he said of the difference between Ross Island and yesterday's plus-80 degree weather.

Walton, a lineman, also is looking forward to rules that allow for one of the three linemen to be eligible for passes. "I haven't generated any positive yardage yet," he said, remembering his playing days at Lehigh. "I'm ready for spiking the ball. I've got it all planned out."