HARDLY EVER have so many owed so much to so few. The American people this week are having their wimpish image rehabilitated by a small band of large men: the personnel of the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. They are in England to play an exhibition game Sunday. American football is growing in popularity in Britain, and the match at London's Wembley Stadium has been sold out for some time. But there is more involved than a mere game. "The U.S. Embassy," reports The Post's correspondent in London, "sees the game as finally putting to rest this summer's British view of Americans as wimps" who are afraid to leave home because of their fear of terrorism.

Certainly no one is calling William (Refrigerator) Perry or any of his protein-fed colleagues a wimp. They've been getting respectful and sometimes awed attention from the British media. But is it possible America's football resources are being stretched a little thin? We raise the point because only last week President Reagan told an audience in Dallas that if Nicaraguan forces should attempt an invasion through Texas, "my guess is that the Sandinistas would make it about as far as the shopping center in Pecos before Roger Staubach came out of retirement, teamed up with some off-duty Texas Rangers and the front four of the Dallas Cowboys and pushed the Sandinistas down the river, out across the Gulf and right back to Havana where they belong."

Mr. Reagan might have meant only to draw some approving yips from a Texas crowd, but it's troubling to think that at this moment the front four of the Dallas Cowboys is away in London, most of the off-duty Texas Rangers are probably on vacation, and anyone scouting our shores through a periscope will find them lined not with linebackers but with languid, thin-necked people sitting under beach umbrellas and reading effete novels. In Washington, our own ex-quarterback is recovering from a broken leg, and in any event doesn't have a military background to match Mr. Staubach's. Our only comfort is in knowing that the capital is still defended by the usual bewildering array of police forces and by some of the roughest, toughest speech writers east of the Pecos shopping center.