The line of people waiting for Tom Landry's autograph zigzagged all the way through Crown Books in Northwest yesterday, curved out the door on K Street and stretched half a block up 21st Street. Could this really be one of the most hated men in Washington, the man who epitomized winning football and destroyed many Redskins dreams?

It was. The legendary Dallas Cowboys coach has been making the rounds, promoting his new book, called -- in typical unflashy Landry style -- "Tom Landry: An Autobiography." The Landry World Tour landed this week in Washington, the town that not too long ago wouldn't have cared if "America's Team" moved to Moscow.

Now Landry can walk down Washington's streets, or even sign his autobiography, without being attacked by kamikaze Redskins fans.

"We had such a great rivalry with Washington," said Landry, 65. "It was probably one of the best in the history of football. It was always 'Hate the Cowboys,' or 'Hate the Redskins.' But people recognize I'm not the coach of the Cowboys anymore. They appreciated the rivalry. People are civil to me now. Who would have ever thought it?"

Landry, who guided the Cowboys to 20 straight winning seasons, was perhaps the most recognizable man in the sport, with his trademark fedora and stony expression. He guided the Cowboys to 18 playoff appearances, 13 division titles, five NFC championships, five Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories.

But since Feb. 25, 1989, when he was abruptly fired by new owner Jerry Jones, Landry has had to confront something he had somehow avoided for more than 40 years: life without football.

Is he bored to tears? Lost in sentimental memories? Hardly. He's seen the Cowboys only twice since his firing, and he's busier than ever: He was appointed to President Bush's National Drug Advisory Board, has toured the country for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is chairman of Dallas's International Sports Commission -- which hopes to bring more amateur sporting events to that city -- and is an adviser to the San Antonio franchise in the new World Football League. And there was his induction last Saturday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I didn't think I'd be this busy. I've been busier this last year than I ever have been in my life," he said. "I wouldn't mind it slowing down a little bit. My wife {Alicia}, especially, would like to see it slow down.

"Since I had never written a book before, I didn't know anything about promotional tours, and I can't tell you if the reception has been good or not. But I've found out there's a lot of Cowboys fans in Washington."

Conspicuously absent in the store's Landry display was Skip Bayless's recently released "God's Coach." Bayless, a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald, didn't see America's Team the same way Landry did -- he attacks the entire franchise, its owners, some of its players and, most of all, Landry. He calls the Cowboys trio of leaders -- Landry, General Manager Tex Schramm and chief of scouting Gil Brandt -- an "Unholy Trinity."

The picture Bayless paints of Landry is none too flattering -- a hard man who motivated his players by fear, forced them to play hurt by taking "dangerous painkillers," failed to communicate with his superiors, had memory lapses on the field, and all the while preached his Christian beliefs.

Landry's book praises former Cowboys owner Clint Murchison as a generous man who saved Landry's career, Schramm as a close friend who did as much as anybody to create the dynasty, Brandt as a brilliant scout years ahead of the rest of the league and Roger Staubach as a respected leader.

But "God's Coach" talks more of Murchison's sexual escapades than his generosity; says Schramm was bitter because Landry and his wife had never invited the Schramms for dinner in their 29 years together; charges that Brandt got much of his information from a scouting service, and says Staubach changed Landry's call on nearly every big play.

Bayless also said that when Landry was fired, a group of current and former Cowboys drank a mock toast to him and said, "He got it just the way he gave it to so many of us."

The Cowboys dynasty "was built on prairie dust," Bayless wrote. "On Texas-sized egos. On greed, excess. Sex appeal. Adultery. Lies. Oil. Alcohol. Arrogance. Gusher luck."

Landry, understandably, is miffed about Bayless's book. And he refuses to read it. "I don't read Bayless," he said. "He never interviewed me. He would just come to the press conferences, sit there, then leave. Why he has a vendetta against me and against the Cowboys, you'll have to ask him. I have no idea what he is talking about.

"You can go into any team's locker room and find two or three people that are unhappy, and you can quote them. But to get the whole story, you have to talk to everybody. . . .

"We must have done something right to win all those games."