At 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 24, it struck Perry Brooks that something funny had happened to his life since he stopped playing football for the Washington Redskins two years ago. While most Washingtonians were asleep, Brooks was in his Falls Church print shop making 5,000 Pizza Hut menus and 28,000 fliers. A broken belt over the weekend had stopped his presses, but he knew that as a small-business owner, it was up to him to get the jobs done on time.

The former defensive lineman smiled and clenched his fist as he recalled his thoughts on that early Monday morning.

"My wife is in the hospital having surgery; my kids are at home. What am I doing here at 5:30 in the morning, printing? What is happening with my life? Why me, Lord? I'm just trying to be an entrepreneur. Football was easy compared to this."

Brooks, 32, who hopes to sell the print shop by the end of the year to concentrate on his growing Montgomery County Market health food stores, is one of many current and former Redskins hustling in the business world.

With the threat of injuries and younger football stars looming over them, these professional athletes know they eventually will be forced into other careers. Often, Redskins start retail businesses or restaurants in this area that try to take advantage of the tremendous media exposure and fan support that the men receive as players.

Some Redskins, including free safety Curtis Jordan, have launched restaurants while they are still playing. According to former Redskin kicker Mark Moseley, having a business venture under way before retiring from football helps to ease the inevitable transition to civilian life.

As one of the most successful Redskin entrepreneurs, Moseley should know. The travel agency that he bought in 1981, while he was still setting records kicking field goals and extra points, is setting records in the business world. Mark Moseley's Travel, which derives most of its revenue from corporate travel accounts, has grown from $750,000 a year in sales to $12 million last year, he said. Moseley expects the business, which ranked 100th last year on Inc. Magazine's list of the nation's fastest growing small businesses, to reach $18 million in sales this year.

The travel business is only one of four businesses that Moseley is operating these days. The others are Mark Moseley's Famous Fries in Potomac Mills Mall, which has about $450,000 a year in sales; Mark Moseley's Sunlit Spaces and Spas in Manassas, which sells Jacuzzis and other luxury plumbing products; and Triple R Western Wear, a Northern Virginia clothing store, which has about $650,000 a year in sales. Recently Moseley spent three months and about $10,000 studying whether to open Mark Moseley's Cellular Phones.

His strategy in the travel business is similar to that of many Redskins: Use name recognition, public speaking engagements and sales skills to open doors and get new business, then deliver quality service and products to keep the business. Moseley picked up sales experience leasing office space in Houston in the early 1970s and said he gained valuable business experience, while he was still playing football, working at JKJ Chevrolet during the off-season.

The competitive edge that Moseley had as a kicker appears to be alive and well in Moseley, the businessman. In the midst of an interview at his Sunlit Spaces and Spas store, Moseley answers a phone call and then shouts to an employe: "He is not going to compete against us. He knows he'll get his teeth kicked in."

Another phone call comes in and it is the president of Lufthansa Airlines, calling from Germany, to find out what to do about a leak in a deluxe spa (a giant bathtub with jets) that Moseley has shipped him.

"Tell me exactly what it is you have wrong with your spa?" Moseley asked. "All they need to do is unscrew the jets and put silicon around it and seal it right up. Transporting it must have jarred it loose."

The phone rings again, and it is a kicker from the University of Delaware. Like Moseley, he is a "straight-on" rather than a "soccer-style" kicker. In the same tone of voice that he used with the Lufthansa president, Moseley said, "Lean your ball back a little more. You'll get it higher. Or cut down the {kicking} tee to 1 inch and try it."

Moseley, 39, said he has achieved tremendous success in the travel business, even though "I had never even been on vacation out of this country" when he bought the business. "I am energetic, I'm very competitive and we put in 14, 16, 18, 20 hours a day" in the beginning, Moseley said. "I learned how to win and what it takes to be the best with {former Redskins Coach} George Allen and Coach {Joe} Gibbs. It translates right over to the business world. You have to be aggressive, strong-willed, positive and honest."

It also helps to have a hearty appetite. Free safety Curtis Jordan and former Redskins punter Jeff Hayes enjoyed the food so much at Rocco's Italian Restaurant in McLean that they approached the owners, the Juliano family, and persuaded them about four years ago to open new locations. Armed with Mrs. Juliano's secret recipes, Jordan, Hayes and business partner Mike Agee have expanded the business and own three Rocco's in Northern Virginia. The four Rocco's have about $2.5 million to $3 million in revenue, Agee said.

Jordan has investments in two restaurants with his father in Lubbock, Tex., according to his aunt, Leota Jordan. Jordan is also vice president and part-owner of Bob Jordan Amusement Co., his father's video game and vending machine business that serves Texas and New Mexico and is poised to enter Oklahoma.

Also in the restaurant business are former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who has several Northern Virginia restaurants bearing his name, and former tight end Rick Walker, who has two Rick Walker's Scoreboard restaurants. Walker's Fairfax restaurant is managed by former Redskin cornerback Jeris White, who has helped negotiate leases and put in accounting systems for the business. Redskins wide receiver Art Monk has a company that designed the menus, Walker said.

"It has been a passion of mine to be in business since I was a kid," Walker said. "I was allowed the opportunity by my mother to be enterprising."

Walker said a home entertainment business he launched in 1982, while he was still playing football, was closed in 1985. However, he described the experience as positive because he learned a lot working in sales and other areas for the store, both during the season and the off-season. Walker also has a job as a sports reporter for Channel 4, where his primary responsibility is covering the Redskins.

"We have struggled through some periods to earn the right to do business," Walker said, describing his Scoreboard restaurants, which serve everything from lobster to hamburgers. "For your first year, you might as well bring a sleeping bag to work."

Walker said playing for the Redskins helps him attract restaurant customers, but "if you get somebody in the door because you're a Redskin, they won't come back because you're a Redskin. You have to earn that through good food and good service." Walker said he misses "the thrill of winning a big game and depositing your check. Those two thrills are hard to duplicate in business."

Walker is not the only one to discover how tough it is to survive in the business world. According to documents filed in bankruptcy court in Alexandria, Redskins linebacker Neal Olkewicz's sporting goods business filed for protection from creditors last November. The business, founded in 1983, was ordered to be liquidated through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding in June.

Olkewicz declined to comment on what happened to his two Northern Virginia sporting good stores. Dave Kaus, one of the store's co-owners, said bad locations, a problem magnified by changes in the roads near the Springfield store, and difficulty competing with major retailers were the major reasons that Neal Olkewicz's Sport Center Inc. failed. Kaus said Olkewicz owned about 20 percent of the business, although he put up only a small amount of money.

"Neal put up his name basically, maybe a couple thousand dollars but it was't much," Kaus said. "We stood behind everything and the customers we had were happy. We just didn't have enough of them."

Kaus said that he and another partner put up about $60,000 for a 40 percent stake in the business. Among the creditors is United Virginia Bank, which lent the business $24,000. Kaus said that even though the business has failed, he is responsible for the United Virginia note because he personally guaranteed the loan. Olkewicz has no similar financial obligations to the business, Kaus said, adding that Olkewicz primarily "did a lot of promotional work. He put in a lot of effort and time."

The Olkewicz stores had a rough time competing with major chains that regularly get discounts from manufacturers. "Herman's is practically selling shoes for what we had to pay for them," Kaus said.

Former Redskins defensive end Ron McDole also had a rough experience in business. McDole helped to start a business that specialized in making library furniture. He left the company, McDole-Dusek Industries, to join Annandale Millwork in Hay Market, Va., where he is helping the company enter the commercial millwork business. McDole said the business he started was caught in a cash squeeze due to high interest expenses and could only be saved by bringing in outside investors. McDole said former Redskins linebacker Brad Dusek runs the company.

"I wrestled with it for so long," McDole said. "I got behind the eight ball and it is hard to recover. We borrowed and the money was so expensive. It was underfinanced."

Sometimes Redskins start businesses in response to experiences they had as players. Before defensive end Tony McGee joined the Redskins in 1982, he got banged around a lot as a New England Patriot. According to McGee, the team had an old-fashioned trainer who relied mostly on ice and who frequently couldn't relieve the players' pain.

"I didn't feel I was getting proper care," McGee said. "I had two bad shoulders, a bad ankle and a bad wrist." McGee went to a physical therapy clinic and discovered that through special exercises, ultrasound treatments and other techniques, physical therapist William F. Doherty could "get me on the field at 85 to 90 percent, which was phenomenal."

McGee, who retired from the Redskins after the 1984-85 season, became friends with Doherty. Today, they own two physical therapy clinics in Northern Virginia and two in Boston. "I take care of all the hiring and firing and all the operations" of the Virginia clinics, McGee said. "I have my wife doing my bookkeeping. We are growing." Next year McGee plans to expand the size and scope of his Sterling, Va., clinic to make it a full-service corporate fitness center. He also plans to open a third Virginia clinic soon.

McGee advertised the clinic last year by buying one minute spots on "Redskins Magazine," a program he cohosts on the Home Team Sports channel. McGee markets the clinics in Boston by meeting with the press and making public appearances. In the Washington area, he meets with doctors to encourage them to refer patients to the clinics.

"Once you're a Redskin, you're always a Redskin," McGee said. "I utilize that to open a lot of doors that probably wouldn't be open." McGee said things were so tough his first year in business that he joked with Doherty that "if I had known it was like this, I would have played 20 years instead of 14 years." McGee said he learned how to motivate people by watching Redskins Coach Gibbs, who gives players special tee shirts and does other things to keep spirits high. "If my therapists hit certain numbers, I give them dinners and other incentives," McGee said.

McGee is one of several former Redskins to enter careers related to football. Former Redskins free safety Mark Murphy is assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association. Murphy attended American University business school during the off-season while he was playing football. He received a masters degree in business administration from American and is pursuing a law degree at night from Georgetown University.

"What spurred my interest in law was my involvement with the union and collective bargaining," Murphy said. "I am in a job I enjoy and getting experience in areas that I am studying about at night."

Two players on the Redskins roster who manage their financial affairs conservatively are backup quarterback Doug Williams and kicker Steve Cox. Williams, who makes more than $400,000 a year, said that after he retires from football he would like to use his savings to help his wife, who works for Xerox, open a printing business. In the meantime, however, Williams is very careful with his money. Unlike athletes with high salaries who have totally delegated the management of their financial affairs to others, and risked losing the funds through investment scams, Williams leaves his money in federally insured bank certificates of deposit.

"I'm a C.D. person," Williams said. "I'm more conservative. If I'm sleeping at night and I wake up, I want to know where my money is."

Cox does, too.

"I'm very conservative," he said. "I don't care about getting the biggest returns. I want something when I leave this game. I've heard too many horror stories."

Cox said he learned about business by helping the owner of some Arkansas Holiday Inns keep the books several years ago. During the off-season these days, Cox works as a loan officer at the Bank of Northeastern Arkansas. He owns a 140-acre piece of property about 20 miles east of Jonesboro, where he lives. The farmer who works the land gets two-thirds of the crop; Cox gets about one-third.

Defensive end Charles Mann appears to be more aggressive with his tax planning than Williams and Cox. Mann has invested in real estate limited partnerships through Lincoln Properties, primarily because of the up-front tax benefits they offer. "Two-to-one writeoffs, nothing far out," Mann said. "I did it first of all to lower my taxes." The 26-year-old Mann said he has a radio show on WRC, recently appeared in a television advertisement and works as a Realtor for Century 21. "Before I leave this sport, I want to own a business but I haven't pinpointed it yet," Mann said.

Redskins running back George Rogers, who earns about $700,000 a year, has delegated the management of his financial affairs to South Carolina attorney Ed Holler, who administers Rogers' mortgage payments, car payments and investments.

"I look into bonds and single premium life insurance," Holler said. "I have about three meetings a year with E.F. Hutton where we go over his financial situation. We have quiet a few real estate investments. We look at his taxes to see what we can do to save him on taxes. We have been in limited partnerships. We don't do much stock market work."

Redskins rookie cornerback Brian Davis also has tax planning on his mind these days. He recently signed a four-year contract for more than $1 million. According to his Philadelphia agent, Davis deferred most of the $225,000 in cash he would have received this year to 1988, when top tax rates are expected to drop in the third-year of tax revision.

While Davis is beginning his professional football career, former Redskins Head Hog George Starke said he is launching a new career in the car business. Starke, who is writing a book and movie script at night, is in the Ford Motor Co. dealer training program. He is training these days at Inner Harbour Ford in Baltimore, where "I'm in the service department fixing people's cars" as part of a rotation program through all departments. Starke helped to organize the SuperSkins Fan Club last year and said he will be a sportscaster on Channel 5 and the ESPN cable channel this season. He started working for Channel 5 while he was playing for the Redskins.

Despite the natural competitiveness that leads current and former Redskins to put in long hours on their business enterprises, they don't always enjoy it.

Perry Brooks, for example, following a number of experiences like his recent Monday dawn patrol can hardly wait to sell his American Speedy Printing Business.

"Football spoiled me," Brooks said. "I can't get up and be at work at 8:30." After the printing business is sold, Brooks said he will devote more time to his family and to promoting his Montgomery County Market health food stores, a business that faces less competition and is therefore more profitable.

"I like the natural chicken and the chips," Brooks said with a smile, standing beside 6,000 different vitamins sold in a store that records about $650,000 in annual sales.

Brooks said he was inspired to pursue profit by something he once heard from Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke. "Mr. Cooke has a saying, 'The man with the gold makes the golden rule', " Brooks said. "I figured I wanted a piece of gold to make the golden rule for my family."

Does Brooks miss playing for the Redskins?

"I miss sacking the quarterback," Brooks said. "I don't miss not being able to walk on Monday morning. I will be a good businessman, and I will always be a Redskin.