Doug Williams, man of the hour, cause celebre and starting quarterback, resurfaced yesterday in front of his locker at Redskin Park, wearing regulation gray sweats and an amused grin.
After three days off, he was the very picture of contentment. On Sunday, this man made all the right moves. He got the job, won the game and skipped town.
"With all the hype in the media and the press, it was a good chance to get away from it all," Williams said. "I didn't even know what was in the newspaper. Yesterday was the first time I read a paper in the area. It was great."
At 7:15 Sunday night, exactly three hours after he victoriously left the field at RFK Stadium, Williams was sitting on a plane that took him away from Dulles to Louisiana, his home. He has built a new house in Zachary, where his wife and 4-year-old daughter live. His father lives nearby.
"I did nothing but cool out and relax and visit with my family," Williams said. "I did some things around the house, raked leaves, that's it. It was the perfect opportunity to see how everybody down there was doing."
Yesterday, the Williams era officially began for the Redskins when the 32-year-old took every snap during the team's offensive workout, and looked good, Coach Joe Gibbs said. He will start Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams at RFK Stadium.
No one knows how long this will last. It could be a game, two games or two years, Gibbs has said. Jay Schroeder, benched because of a slump, will be back sometime. But for now, a tried-and-true veteran is getting another -- and perhaps final -- chance at stardom. It's an enchanting time at Redskin Park. And Williams, chatty as ever curled up on the bench in front of his locker, is enjoying it all.
"All I want is the same opportunity everybody else has had," Williams said, when asked how long this job should be his. "I've got some ups and downs, I am human. If I'm playing good . . . that's for Joe Gibbs to make that decision, not me, and not anybody else, not the crowd, not outsiders, just him with his gut feeling, making the decision."
Williams, never known for his scrambling ability, admirably danced around questions about how long he will have this job and what he will do with it.
"I think every quarterback wants to go to the Super Bowl," he said. "I hope that my team believes I'm a leader, somebody who's going to get the job done at all costs. I'd like to be thought of as that type of individual. Also, a good person to get along with off the field, on the field, what have you. And just somebody to look up to."
Williams, the Redskins' first black quarterback, said he "most definitely" believes he is a role model for Washington's black community. The Redskins also are starting Raleigh McKenzie, who is black, at center in place of the injured Russ Grimm. It is quite rare to find an NFL team with blacks at those positions; Williams said he has never heard of it happening before.
Williams said that while this is a good time in his life, it is not his happiest time as a quarterback. That came in 1979, when he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC championship game. Several years later, Williams was embroiled in a contract dispute and left Tampa Bay with bitter memories for the U.S. Football League.
"There's not that much I haven't been through," Williams said. "Quite naturally, this is hard for Jay because he's never been through it. But to me, I've been doing it all my life. I've played under a microscope, so what's the difference? I was in a microscope in 1978 when I first set foot on the field. I've always been under that little tiny eye.
"I don't think I've changed. I think the environment around me changed. In Tampa, the coaches down there knew that if Doug Williams didn't have a good game, the Buccaneers didn't have a good game. It was one of those situations where so goes Doug Williams, so go the Buccaneers. But here, I'm not looked upon to make the big play, per se, because we've got so many other guys like the Art Monks, the Gary Clarks, the Ricky Sanders, the running backs we have here, a good offensive line. You've got so many other people that you can depend on."
It's not surprising, given Williams' history, that he is having no trouble keeping this new opportunity in perspective.
"Nothing surprises me anymore," he said. "To get an opportunity to play quite naturally is great. I'll be doing as much as I can to keep this job. I want to play and I know other people want to play, also. That's just the nature of this game.
"I'm not after vindication. I'm just here to do a job. Given an opportunity, I'm just going to do the best I possibly can. It's a good feeling to just get an opportunity to play."
Running back George Rogers (strained groin) practiced with the first team but was "still a little tender," Gibbs said. If Rogers can't start, either Timmy Smith or Keith Griffin will . . . Schroeder "looked good, looked sharp," Gibbs said, running the scout team and working on the other practice field with quarterbacks coach Jerry Rhome. Schroeder has been bothered by the flu the past few days, Gibbs said . . . Linebacker Rich Milot is healthy and practicing again, Gibbs said . . . Gibbs closed practice yesterday to the media. "When quite a bit is going on, I try to get back to spending time by ourselves to get settled down and get back to business," he said.