This was referee Bob McElwee explaining the special coin a few moments before flipping it in Super Bowl XXII: "Heads on this side, Mr. Butz; tails over here, Mr. Butz." He was looking directly at Joe Jacoby.

"I'm figuring this is gonna be a very long day," Jacoby recalled, "if the man in charge doesn't even know my name." He could not resist adding: "Do I look that old?"

For every other Redskin, the experience also began as an unbearably long nightmare and ended as, well, considering the occasion, let's trot out supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Looking back, it only gets better.

When Jacoby talks about "saving our best for last," he is referring to the Redskins scoring more points in 13 minutes and 13 seconds of the Super Bowl's second quarter than they did in any non-strike or playoff game all season.

That 35-point period against the Broncos would have won 15 of the first 17 Super Bowls and sent the other two into overtime. In seven of the first nine Super Bowls, the total points didn't reach 35.

"Like the gates opened for us," Jacoby said. "On Timmy Smith's run {for the Redskins' third touchdown of the quarter}, the hole was big enough for me {at more than 300 pounds} to get through clean."

Nobody but Washingtonians apparently appreciate the majesty of football lightning, the wild reality of Super Bowl records for individual rushing, passing and receiving being smashed on the same day.

"What a clunker!" Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote. "Daily Variety would know how to headline it: 'Super Bowl Lays an Egg.' Again."

To those who realize how much more efficiently and enthusiastically our nation's leaders perform when the Redskins win gloriously, this egg was golden.

Overlooked in the offensive binge were some neon numbers by strong safety Alvin Walton that would have earned most valuable player honors in a fairly ordinary Super Bowl: seven tackles and a total of two sacks for 25 yards in losses.

Some Redskins still have a look that suggests: Did this really happen? For Jacoby, fun is averaging nearly 20 yards on the 18 plays that mattered in the second quarter. Fantasy is winning a ring even though there seems nowhere traditional to put it.

He held out his left hand. The joint on his third finger is swollen and messy-looking. Any ring large enough to pass around such a detour would need 37 yards of tape to keep from rattling about the back of his finger.

(In case you recently hopped on the Redskins' bandwagon, Jacoby already has a ring for his right hand, for helping win Super Bowl XVII.)

Jacoby's immediate concern is another part of his body also suffering from some occupational hazards: his ankles. At least one, and both if possible, are scheduled to be tidied up surgically within the next two weeks.

"Like an oil and lube job," he joked.

Nearby as the Redskins were leaving San Diego Monday morning were Jacoby's wife, Irene, and a fan whose company and zaniness he especially enjoys, Bob Tichnell.

"It was weird being in a stadium where the other fans were louder than we were," Irene said of that early burst of Broncomania on the field and in the stands.

Irene is a late convert to football. When they were dating, she scolded Jacoby for not pursuing a real-world job before realizing how well the dreamy one paid.

The Redskins made the Super Bowl the first two years Irene knew Jacoby. She remembers saying, after a playoff loss to the Bears in 1984: "You mean you don't get there every season?"

No, she now knows all too well, making three Super Bowls -- and winning two -- in six years is anything but normal in pro football.

Given that the Redskins have won the Super Bowl each time the NFL players have gone on strike during the regular season, the first banner in RFK Stadium next year might be: "Hey, guys, get outta here for a few games."

The strike was on Jacoby's mind when he spotted Tichnell, of Frederick, Md., walking toward him, one hand extended and the other stroking a freshly shaved face.

By the pool at the Redskins hotel in victory, both men recalled being together during a time of much doubt slightly less than four months before.

"I'd come to join them on the picket line {before the Redskins-Cardinals replacement game}," Tichnell said. "I know Butz and {Jacoby} real well."

That day Jacoby was sporting what he called a strike beard, and vowed not to shave until there was union-management peace and the players were back at work.

Tichnell bragged he could top that.

"I told 'em I wouldn't shave until after they won the Super Bowl," he said. "They all laughed."

At that time, Butz and Jacoby were concerned about more immediate and practical matters, like when their next paycheck would arrive.

Tichnell kept the faith, through the strike and through some Redskins losses after it. The way the season was going at times, his beard might drag on the pavement before his team got to the Super Bowl.

For a while Sunday, Tichnell kept his razor out of sight in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. Redskins defenders were as the sides and flippers of a pinball machine: They could hit those Broncos, but not stop them.

Then Jacoby and the others swung open the gates. And Tichnell hoisted his throwaway razor in the stands and began to whack away. It was primitive chopping, for he was using soft drink in a cup to try to keep hair from clogging the tool.

Finally, Tichnell gave up and finished the project, with shave cream and water, the next morning.

Jacoby said: "Shoulda used beer."