On a day when John Riggins chose to become an angry young man, the Redskins also decided to add veteran quarterback Kim McQuilken to their active roster and place reserve running back Jack Deloplaine on waivers.

Riggins sought out a reporter to complain bitterly about the NFL's rules on grabbing a man's face mask, something Eagle defensive end Manny Sistrunk did to him twice Sunday with only one five-yard penalty assessed.

Specifically, Riggins contended that the penalty is not heavy enough and that the rule - 15 yards for a flagrant grab and only five for an unintentional yank - is too nebulous.

The addition of McQuilken was not surprising. Redskin Coach Jack Pardee had said he probably would carry three quarterbacks this season and McQuilken was in town last week for a tryout.

He is 27, a five-year veteran drafted in the third round out of Lehigh in 1974 who spent the last four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mostly in a until the after the final preseason reserve role. He stayed with Atlanta game before being released.

"They were pretty committed to Steve Bartiowski and seeing what June Jones would do," McQuilken said yesterday. "I really didn't expect to stay there. In fact, I'd asked them to trade me or release me even before camp started."

In the two weeks since he was cut, McQuilken said he had been approached by a number of NFL teams and had narrowed his choice to four. He chose the Redskins because of its proximity to his roots in eastern Pennsylvania and "of the teams that contacted me it was the most positive situation I could get into. This team has a great shot at the playoffs."

Pardee said he decided to add McQuilken to the roster this week "because if we didn't take him now, we probably wouldn't have been able to get him at all. A lot of teams were interested.

"From what we've seen, I'd rather have Kim than anyone else I know of right now. We think he can be a good quarterback. We don't blame everything that happened down there (in Atlanta) on him. They've had trouble winning and getting their offense going but they had more problems then quarterback problems."

In four years at Atlanta, McQuilken had started, backed up and played No. 3. He has a career completion percentage of 39 per cent, with four touchdown passes and 27 interceptions in his 267 attempts.

Deloplaine was cut to make room for McQuilken two weeks after the Redskins claimed him from Steelers waiver list. He had been used primarily on special teams and didn't carry the ball in either of the Redskins first two games.

The Redskins now have four running backs on the roster, and Pardee said he planned to start using versatile J. T. Smith at the position, as well. Smith, a rookie from North Texas State, started training camp as a safety, switched to wide receiver and also returns kickoffs and punts.

"Before the year is over, he'll either know a lot of football or be awfully confused," Pardee deadpanned.

There was nothing funny, however, about Riggins' complaint on the face-mask issue.

"I think a 15-yard penalty is too light, and I also can't understand how they can say it was accidental when the guy still is holding on to you. If it's just accidental, how come the guy doesn't let go right away? A five-yard penalty for a broken neck just doesn't seem right.

"Up until last Sunday, I'd never had it happen to me before. But when it happens, you have the feeling like you're in suspended animation, and that's a bad feeling. Your head is being held, and there's no place you can hide. What they ought to do is not make you wear the chin strap. Then at least you'd have a fighting chance. There'd be some give.

"When it happened, it just dawned on me how critical it could be. Fortunately it didn't hurt me. When they hit me, Manny was hit too and he went with me. I told him 'Manny, you're too good a player to do something like that.'

"He got five yards for it once, and they didn't catch it the second time. I'm just bringing this all up because I really think something should be done about it before something really bad happens."

Art McNally, the NFL's supervisor of officials, said he thought the rule "is sufficient the way it is now. Actually, this is the first time I'd ever even heard anybody complain about it."