Frank Turner always wondered what it would be like to live in a city without a football team, and yesterday he found his answer.

"It's the pits," he said.

Turner was like fans and players throughout the Washington area trying to find something to do on an autumn weekend that didn't revolve around the Redskins. Washington, along with the New York Giants, Phoenix Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, had the weekend off thanks to the National Football League's decision to spread the 16-game regular season over 17 weeks.

It helped that the bye came on an un-autumnlike Columbus Day weekend in which temperatures hit the mid-eighties. The warm weather lured Turner, 43, a lifelong Redskins fan from Rosslyn, off his sofa and onto a bicycle, something the 5-foot-8, 230-pound accountant had not done in years.

"A guy could get a heart attack from this," Turner puffed while taking a break under the cool shade of a tree. "I hope I can make it back."

Without a Redskins game scheduled, Gary Measelle, 38, of Sterling, had no choice but to accompany his wife and two children on a trip to the Mall in Washington, even though they knew in advance that the monuments and museums would be closed because of the federal budget stalemate.

"There was nothing else to do but get out and enjoy the day," Measelle said.

The weekend bye "was the only way I was able to get him out of the house," said Measelle's wife, Charmain.

Over in Georgetown, an empty stool could be found at almost every bar showing televised games. At Champions, only about a dozen patrons watched one of two games playing on the restaurant's downstairs televisions. No one seemed to care that the satellite feed for one game was acting up.

"When the whole NFC is off, you know it's going to be a slow day. None of my regulars are here," moaned bartender Joe McGovern. "Wait until the Redskins-Giants game next week. This place will be packed. Today I figure people are outside or on a couch."

Some football aficionados found a way to get their pigskin fix. Fans were invited to attend the birthday tribute for former Redskins running back Larry Brown, held yesterday at RFK Stadium.

The week off enabled Coach Joe Gibbs to do some things he'd been unable to do in past years. On Tuesday, he drove to Williamsburg to see his son, J.D., practice with William and Mary. Then, on Saturday, he drove to Newark, Del., to see the Tribe beat Delaware, 22-12.

To see the game, however, Gibbs was forced to move a meeting of offensive coaches from Saturday to yesterday. The Redskins' defensive coaches met as scheduled Saturday. The club will resume practice today at 2 p.m.

Offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, who has been coaching in the collegiate and professional ranks almost continuously for 29 years, scared wife Mariana nearly to death when he told her in jest that Gibbs had planned for the coaches to go away together for the weekend. After walking out the door, he returned to his stunned wife to tell her he was only kidding.

Some players used the Sunday off for rest, others decided to leave town. Center Jeff Bostic took off with his wife, Lynn, for the mountains. Punter Ralf Mojsiejenko went bow hunting. Wide receiver Gary Clark was finally able to attend homecoming weekend at alma mater James Madison. Trainer Bubba Tyer took off for Maryland's Eastern Shore to visit friends.

But guard Russ Grimm had no such ideas of travel. "I'm going to do two things: order a pizza and open a cold one and then I'm going to sit on my couch and not move," he said.

Tight end Terry Orr went to church, then came home and watched football. "I think it's good," he said of the off day. "I kind of wish it was later in the season. Usually the guys aren't as banged up now as they would be later."

Orr said he thought about half the team had left town for the weekend.

Former quarterback and current broadcaster Sonny Jurgensen spent the day at home scanning his satellite dish and chatting with his sons, home visiting from college.

"I'd rather {the Redskins} were playing," Jurgensen said. "They'd be better off playing. They played well last week and the Giants are beat up a little bit. This gives the Giants an extra week to get healthy."

During Jurgensen's years with the Redskins -- 1964 to 1974 -- there were no weeks off, and he said he couldn't even remember the last time he was able to flip from game to game on a Sunday.

As for his job as a broadcaster, Jurgensen said the week off enabled him to do a little more homework. "You just get longer to talk about the importance of the {Giants} game," he said.

Unlike Jurgensen, broadcasting partner Sam Huff stayed away from football yesterday, preferring to work around his Middleburg, Va., farm.

Huff said he didn't have days off when he played either, and he's not real happy with the idea.

"I don't like it," he said. "You get into a groove, you get into the system and you go with it. . . . Once the season starts, you look forward to playing. All this does is extend it."

Cornerback Brian Davis said he also did not like the layoff. He spent much of the weekend at home with his "feet up, a bowl of popcorn and a Coors Light next to me" watching college and professional games.

"I'm pretty amazed how they keep trying to stretch {the season}. They will try to make it seem as if you get a rest, when it's just a way to stretch the season even longer. It's just another week for {the networks} to get in commercials," Davis said.

Washington fans might as well get used to the midseason break. Next year, the NFL plans to stretch the 16-game season over 18 weeks.