Thirty athletes were honored by their peers last night at the sixth annual National Football League Players Association awards banquet at the Sheraton Park Hotel.

The dinner was dedicated to the Special Olympics, and Ethel Kennedy accepted a check on behalf of 1 million participants in the program.

Roy Jefferson, former Redskin wide receiver, was honored for his work in the Special Olympics by a Washington participant, Charles Moore.

In one of the lighter moments on the program, Rick Upchurch of the Denver Broncos, honored as AFC punt-return champion, said, "I want to thank my God and my maker, and my chiropractor. He is the fellow who gets my bones untwisted on Sundays and Mondays after games.

Jackie Wallace of the Los Angeles Rams, honored as the NFC punt-return champion, struck a pertinent note when he said, "I am going to give this award to my son, who has a learning disability."

The check for the Special Olympics was for $10,000. The Players Association will donate the proceeds from last night's banquet, after expenses.

Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFC's must valuable player, was one of the last to receive his award. He said, "I've been sitting here so long that my tie went out of style. I cherish the award, particularly because of the associated cause (Special Olympics). I just hope you won't throw anything at me when we play the Redskins."

Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, NFC rushing leader, said, "I want to thank God, my mother, my father and my teammates, who contributed more than I did."

Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers were unable to attend because of previous commitments.

Besides NFLPA President Len Hauss and Roy Jefferson, other former Redskins attending were Sonny Jurgensen, Brig Owens and Ray Schoenke. %current Redskins Mark Moseley and Bill Brundige also were in the audience.

Hauss presented an award to six Houston Oilers and said, "When I first proposed an award for the NFL outstanding afensive line, someone said it will be a midnight on a St. Patrick's Day when we do that -- and here it is."