There were about 20 Redskins crammed on a small platform, stumbling over the words of "I Wish You a Merry Christmas."

The scene was the ninth annual "No Greater Love" Christmas party at the Dulles Marriott for the children of servicemen who have died, been taken prisoners of war or are missing in action.

The star of the show, which attracted such guests as Judge John Sirica, Mrs. Strom Thurmond, Wes Unseld and several former hostages, was, of course, Santa Claus.

Nobody really knows what Santa looks like, but again this year he strongly resembled Dave Butz, the Redskins' 290-pound defensive tackle.

"I've been doing this for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it," Butz said after bouncing what must have seemed like a hundred small children on his knee.

Mark Moseley, who has been involved in this Christmas project for eight years, was the master of ceremonies.

"I started doing this as a favor to Carmella," the place-kicker said, referring to Carmella LaSpada, chairman of the board of No Greater Love. "It's a lot of fun and I think the kids enjoy it."

The festivities began with the Gallaudet Dancers, who performed to the music of several Christmas songs.

While waiting for Santa -- he was late, as always -- Moseley persuaded his teammates, who had been signing autographs for the children, to join him in singing several carols.

"These guys sing almost as badly as we've been playing lately," Moseley said as the informally clad players hummed and hawed over the words.

Among the guilty ones were Joe Theismann, Art Monk, Terry Metcalf, Mike Connell, Ricky Thompson, Dallas Hickman, Mel Kauffman, Tom Flick and Ray Waddy.

The players came over to the hotel following a lengthy workout in preparation for Sunday's game at RFK Stadium against the slumping Philadelphia Eagles.