Did somebody say, Bandwagon?

Oh, no, it's far too early for that. The Bandwagon (U.S. copyright Anthony I. Kornheiser 5168290025) does not come out willy-nilly, silly. Not after beating such a pathetic team as the Detroit Lions, now 0-20 lifetime in Washington. Even the most fervent fans can't geek up on a team that has played exactly three teams with a winning record this season--and lost to two of them. Get a grip, people. Stay focused.

The Bandwagon is, um, resting. It has been garaged for many years, certainly for as long as Norv Turner has been coaching in Washington. It hasn't even had so much as an oil change since 1994. It has probably rusted. I doubt seriously that The Bandwagon is Y2K compliant, and I can't believe it can maneuver through the streets of D.C. now, with every block having deep gouges for fiber optics.

But Santa's elves (who get the month of January off contractually; Package Deliverers Local 175) are trying to scrape the chassis clean as we speak. It needs a complete overhaul, so there's no chance it could be up to speed by the time the Redskins get to Tampa on Saturday. But you never know. With some fluids and a tune-up, maybe by Atlanta.

Oh, no, did I say that?

Somebody shoot me.

Remember those years when The Bandwagon was in deep storage and people talked optimistically about getting on The Gus Bus?

I'll pause while you stop laughing.

Well, The Gus Bus is in far worse shape than The Bandwagon. Talk about your nightmare homecomings. Gus Frerotte had a day you wouldn't wish on Linda Tripp.

It started before the game with banners hung throughout the stadium decorated with bull's-eyes and variations on the theme: "Hit Your Head Here" in fond remembrance of the time Gus smashed his head into the concrete wall.

It continued when Gus got under center for the first play from scrimmage, and boos rained down on him. As Gus faded back to pass, Greg Jones broke free and knocked Gus into Montgomery County, dislocating the pinkie on his left hand. After just one more play, the crowd noise forced Gus to call a timeout. "The plan was to stay on Gus, and try to rattle him," guard Rod Milstead said. "I think he was rattled."

The first half was a disaster for the Lions. They gained only 23 yards rushing, and 18 of them came on the one decent burst by Cory Schlesinger. They were heavily penalized, 81 yards in the first quarter alone (compared to zero for the Redskins). The Lions couldn't stop anybody in burgundy. If I'd slapped a helmet on my dog, she would have gained 100 yards.

But no Lion took gas as bad as Gus. His life was miserable. Until he completed a desperation pass at the end of the half, he was 6 for 16 for 53 yards and two interceptions. Up in the press box somebody suggested Gus should bang his head into the wall so he wouldn't have to keep playing. Adding insult to injury, some "fan" dropped a beer on Gus as he left the field after the game.

The game grew lopsided early as the Redskins scored on their first four possessions, and five of their first six. Stephen Davis had only six yards in his first five carries, causing worry that he hadn't gotten over his ankle sprain. But Davis knocked out one run of 58 yards and another of 32 before he left the game with a knee sprain. Brad Johnson threw economically. His first three completions came on third down and moved the chains. Seven of his first nine completions were for first downs. Long before the lead grew to 27-0, some of us wondered if there was anything in the NFL like the 10-run "mercy rule" in Little League. "That first half was as good as our team can play," Coach Norv Turner said. (Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, let me interrupt this paean to the Redskins, because I can't hold this in any longer. The Wizards stink! They are dreadful, and they're an embarrassment. I don't care what happened last night in Milwaukee. What happened in the two games against Chicago was horrifying. These Bulls may be the worst collection in the 50-year history of the NBA--and they have now beaten the Wizards TWO IN A ROW! The Bulls have one road win. Guess who? They have scored more than 100 points exactly one time in 30 games. Guess who? This is so embarrassing. Three guys making over $10 million this season, and this is what you get? They just stink out loud. "I'm really mystified at what's going on," Coach Gar Heard said Friday night. You're mystified? We're aghast. "We've got to take heat for this," Rod Strickland said. "This is terrible. We can't help but take heat for this." The next home game ought to be Blowtorch Night!)

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Okay, where were we? The game was over early, letting Dan Snyder and Fred Drasner breathe easy. Before the game Drasner said he was so nervous he had hiccups for an hour. And The Danny, who was wearing his lucky tie, his lucky vest and, yes, his lucky underwear, said he hadn't slept in two days. He was up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning with a clicker in his hand running through TV channels. "I found something called Hardcore Football," he said. I dared not ask what that was about.

The second half was mostly uneventful, except for a sequence between Robert Porcher and Brad Johnson that looked like WWF Smackdown. Johnson had thrown an interception, and Porcher went after him. Brad didn't like it, and started wrestling with Porcher, and took him down! "I've been watching Goldberg," Brad said with a grin. (To the great delight of the crowd, Brad flexed on the sideline. But with that elegant swan neck Brad might want to avoid a steel-cage situation with the 282-pound Porcher. "I beat him today, but tomorrow he'd beat me," Brad conceded.) Tre Johnson immediately came to the defense of his quarterback, and a scrum ensued. Tre was swinging wildly as the Lions were clawing at him, and one of his punches hit an official in the head. Automatic ejection followed.

"It's like in hockey when someone runs at your goalie," Jones said. "You have no choice but to go after him."

"You think Tre was alone out there?" guard Keith Sims added. "We were all there. Brad is our money man. An offensive lineman has to do that and protect his quarterback. You can't allow a cheap shot."

The game lost all intrigue after that--until a couple of officials were overheard recapitulating that bizarre sequence during a time out. One of their microphones was inadvertently turned on, so the entire stadium could hear one official refer to Tre Johnson as "this clown."

Then a league official came running out and said, "Your mike's on," ending a brief glimpse into the new Fox show: "When Good Zebras Go Bad."

You'll excuse me now. I've got a mechanic to see.