A candid camera caught a tear in Doug Williams' eye Monday night, and WJLA-TV-7 brought the unedited version into everyone's living room later that evening.

The station was besieged with phone calls, about 75 percent of which were sympathetic toward Williams, producer Art Hubacher said. Of course, a few callers objected to the film clip, saying Williams -- like anyone else -- should be allowed to cry in private, especially just after being replaced as the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback by former starter Jay Schroeder.

"But there was no hesitation {in showing it}," Hubacher said, "because that's what Doug was feeling Monday night. A picture says more than a thousand words."

The point is, playing quarterback for the Washington Redskins means no privacy at all, like it or not. Yesterday, former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann agreed the president of the United States is slightly more important than Williams or Schroeder, but only Monday through Saturday.

"When I was no longer able to play, I felt like there was a big weight lifted off my shoulders," Theismann said yesterday. "It's only now that I've realized the weight was the responsibility of this city. You basically controlled the mood of this city on Sundays, and when I say you, I mean the quarterback. Here, it's a quarterback's town, it's a quarterback's offense and it's a quarterback's team."

So, it must be a quarterback's mentality to handle all the fuss. Williams and Schroeder have done a remarkable job so far, but Williams decided yesterday it might be best to stay quiet the rest of the week.

"The emotion that was displayed {Monday night on WJLA} was not a result of the decision that was made {to start Schroeder}, which I accept," Williams said yesterday. "It was just a culmination of a number of things, and I don't want to talk about it anymore because I've said all that can be said."

"It's funny how different people react," Redskins quarterbacks coach Jerry Rhome said yesterday. "Jay got mad {when replaced}; Doug got sorrowful. When something happens that hurts, people are different. But both deep down care about the team. They've got to try to put their personal feelings behind."

Naturally, most in the Redskins' front office expected Williams to handle a demotion better, since, at 32, he's more experienced than the 26-year-old Schroeder. In fact, most of the talk 17 days ago was: "Will Schroeder bounce back from this benching? Will his tender ego be bruised?" Shouldn't the same questions now apply to Williams?

"I watched the interview last night," Theismann said. "And I thought it was very sincere. I think it's very real, and I think judging from what I saw last night . . . I was inspired to know that he hurt because he wasn't the starter. If I'm a teammate of his, I appreciate that instead of having some guy say, 'It's the coach's decision; I'll live with it.' It speaks very much for him. That's what you look for. You look for emotion."

Odds are Williams will rebound from this, considering his father always has preached mental fortitude.

"I don't feel bad about this {benching}," Robert Williams Sr. said yesterday from Louisiana. "Why? Because Schroeder was the starter when {Doug} went there. So why should I feel bad about it? When you play football, you get hurt."

But, in this case, Williams got hurt (with back spasms) and had to watch Schroeder throw for 331 yards and three touchdowns against the New York Giants to earn back the starting job.

Theismann, for one, wonders why Williams decided not to play Sunday. Apparently, Coach Joe Gibbs had left the decision up to Williams, and Theismann always lived by one rule: Never let anyone else play with your football. For instance, Theismann said he never wanted the backup quarterback to take a snap for him during practice. When Rhome was hired in 1983, Theismann said he compromised and gave the backup quarterback one snap.

"And I'd take the other 40," he said.

He added: "My personal feelings in the Doug Williams situation are he must have been hurt very badly not be able to start that game. Listen, I've been in this business long enough to know one play off or one game off, somebody else can come in and do a great job, and you may never get back there.

"That's why when I had the opportunity to be a starting quarterback, I was going to do everything in my power to be out on the field. I've played with broken ribs, torn-up knees, broken collarbones, but there was no way I was going to let anybody else go out there and show what they could do."

As usual, Theismann had other opinions to expound on yesterday.

On Schroeder: "I said it in my book, and I believe it. Jay can't look back at 1986, at the accolades and accomplishments. Each year is a new year. For him, if I was going to put a sign in front of his locker, I'd put a sign that says: 'Be consistent.' And don't make excuses that the offense is designed for you to throw deep. That's bull. The offense is designed to throw to the open man."

On the offense: "A pattern has developed over the last two years of living off the big pass. Then, you start to ignore the short possession-type game. {But} to me, when Joe Gibbs is most comfortable, that's when he is in a controlled passing game and run situation. And then, by choice, take your big shots.

"I think he's been forced into something we got rid of in 1981, and that's the San Diego-style offense. I think he's right back into it, because he has to . . . I don't think you can live by the big plays and win championships. They have relied on that, but they also have one of the best defenses in football. Listen, right now, the offense is only second to the special teams as far as not playing well. The factors are injuries to the offensive line and to the running backs and living off the big pass."

On the overall Redskins team: "I get a kick out of listening to some of the veterans remark about the replacement team. If I was a veteran on the Redskins today, I'd go out and sent a Christmas present to the replacements. Not a Christmas card, but a Christmas present."

Redskins Notes:

Gibbs said he plans to start running back George Rogers against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Rogers, who gained six yards on two carries against the New York Giants last Sunday, said he'll do whatever the coach wants. "Wait and see this week," Rogers said. "It'll be a different story."