HERNDON,VA. — HERNDON, Va. -- Until a couple of weeks ago Mark Adickes could look out his third-floor window at the turning leaves and pretend he was on vacation in Aspen.
"I had to pretend something," Adickes said. "I felt like Jesse James."
He was the non-playing Washington Redskin, and he hadn't ever been a non-playing anything. "I'd been a starter since I was 9 years old," the 29-year-old guard said. From the kids' league in Leavenworth, Kan., where his father was an Army chaplain, through Killeen (Texas) High School, four years at Baylor and 48 straight games for the Kansas City Chiefs, Mark Adickes had been in the starting lineup, a given.
He will be the starting left guard when the Redskins get the ball in Texas Stadium tomorrow afternoon (4, Ch. 11). He started and finished against New Orleans Sunday and "did all right, I think," Adickes said. "I'd grade me a C. I did some good things and some stupid things and I made one really dyslexic mistake."
"He was all right," said offensive line coach Jim Hanifan. "Real good on pass blocking. Made one bad play, but you know how it is when a guy hasn't played for a while."
Nervous is how it is. "Strange" was Adickes' feeling for the first eight games, in which he was "inactive" six times and "did not play" twice.
"It's hard to keep your competitive edge when you know all you're going to do on Sunday is carry the clipboard," Adickes said. But he kept his sense of humor.
"I'm glad I have my checks sent direct to my brother," he said. "If I went to get them myself I'd have to back up to the pay table. It's like stealing." Adickes' brother, John, a backup center for the Bears for two years, is an accountant.
But the "stealing" was good. The Redskins' offer last March was attractive enough that Adickes sent his regrets to the Chiefs. They were trying to woo him back, admitting their error in judgment of him.
That judgment had seemed "weird," Adickes recalled. As the Chiefs' 1989 training camp opened their media guide listed Adickes as "the incumbent" guard. He had started 37 consecutive games.
"I was the designated pass blocker on third down," Adickes said. "They used me as blocking tight end in the short-yardage formation." He started the first 11 games, to make it 48 straight.
And then, all of a sudden, Adickes -- at 6 feet 4 and 273 pounds -- wasn't big enough. The Chiefs' record was 4-6-1 and the coaching staff "decided to go with bigger guys."
Adickes felt established in Kansas City. Among other things he was a member of the Academic Chiefs Corps, a group of players who "adopted" sophomore English classes and spoke to them about education in general and drugs in particular.
But the Chiefs did not protect Adickes on their 37-man roster and he got the message. The phone rang with the New England offer, which was biggest, and the Redskins', which he decided was best.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City coaches had reviewed the season's films and Adickes looked big to them again. "They told me I came off the ball real well," Adickes said, "and how they really liked the way I played."
It turned out that the phone number the Chiefs' office gave him to call was a room in the same hotel where Adickes was billeted as he worked out for the Redskins. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd had come after him.
"But I wanted to play for an established contender," Adickes had decided. "The Redskins' offensive line is really first-class."
And really hard to join. Adickes knew he was a border-liner and he worried all the way to the final cut. "I was in the weight room that day," Adickes recalled, "when Rennie walked in and I said, 'Oh-oh!' "
Rennie Simmons, the tight ends coach, might have been the "Turk" with the bad news.
But there was no bad news. Then, for eight weeks, there was no good news. Adickes walked the sidelines, charting the "stunts" and "breakdowns" in the line. He practiced, watched and "learned a lot."
When he didn't play in the overtime game at Detroit, which seemed to take forever and tired everybody, it seemed to be panic time.
But in the wreckage of the game at Philadelphia, Adickes played after Mark Schlereth was injured. He gave himself a C.
Adickes was sung last night as the Unsung Hero of a radio talk show. It wasn't one of those $500 appearances the regulars get. It got him just a free dinner, but it was a start.
'Maybe I got a C-plus," Adickes said.