Two years ago, before she headed out to RFK stadium to root for the Redskins in an important game against Dallas, Penny Ward Moser tinted her brown hair a bright Redskins burgundy, braided the locks and finished them off with two Redskins teddy bear hair clips. Her tresses still glinted neon burgundy the next week when she appeared on the Today show to expound on dust bunnies—those fluffy clumps of you-don't-want-to-know-what that collect under the bed—about which she had written an article in the science magazine Discover.
The eclectic Moser, 39, a contributing writer for SI since September, also has written on such subjects as cats, cockroaches and television for Discover, GEO and the medical magazine Hippocrates. She wrote this week's POINT AFTER (page 102) about the commercials on televised NFL games. She finds pro football so gut-wrenching that in Discover she began a first-person account of having food poisoning with the observation, "My intestines felt as if they were playing host to a Bears-Raiders game."
Moser, a Washington, D.C., resident since 1974, became a Skins fan in the early '80s. She still has a soft spot for retired running back Nick (Trashman) Giaquinto. "He left football to hang wall-board," she says, "a real man."
Before becoming a correspondent in Time Inc.'s Washington bureau, Moser was a publicist in Forest City, Iowa, for Winnebago motor homes. In her high school days in Shabbona Grove, Ill., she was a waitress at the nearby Flying Red Horse Truck Stop, and while a journalism student at the University of Iowa, she worked at a corn cannery, where she stood over a conveyer belt and tried to intercept worms before they got creamed along with the kernels. "Usually I'd miss them," she says.
Moser is better at spotting birds. She'll soon sight her 300th species; her husband, Don, the editor of Smithsonian magazine, is nearing his 500th. "I bird whenever I'm on assignment," Moser says. While scoping out one of the world's largest cat litter mines in Ochlockonee, Ga., for an article that may appear in a national magazine (not this one), she got her first look at a loggerhead shrike. And she notched four birds in 1984 while stalking Geraldine Ferraro for LIFE. "One writer told me it was the single most useful thing anyone had ever done on a campaign," says Moser.