Dick Myers was following Gary Player in the gallery during the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club in May when he was first approached about taking over as general manager of the Federals, Washington's entry in the United States Football League.

The decision to leave the security of a job as assistant general manager of the Redskins and to gamble on his future had to be made quickly, but it wasn't a difficult one for this self-confessed sports junkie.

"I was stymied at the Redskins," Myers said. "I've always been patient, but I realized I probably wasn't going any further there. My goal always was to be a general manager. I could have stayed with the Redskins another six or seven years and never gotten this kind of opportunity."

The opportunity is to make something out of nothing. In a city that has gained a reputation for losing sports franchises, Myers is being asked to challenge the most popular team in town.

"Obviously, we're not on a parity with the NFL," Myers said the other day. "But there are a lot of good football players out there and we're going to provide a lot of jobs."

That's the big question, of course. Just how many good unemployed football players are there?

"I don't think there's enough," said Bobby Mitchell, the assistant general manager of the Redskins, who has been involved in scouting since 1969. "We sure don't think we cut anybody who can be a great player.

"The key is the skilled positions," Mitchell continued. "If the fans want to look at the (USFL) game as, say, one between Ohio State and Michigan, they should be happy. But it's going to be difficult to come up with quarterbacks, for example."

Myers insists the new league will create its own stars. "If a guy throws four touchdown passes on Sunday, people will know his name on Monday," he said. "All some guys need is an opportunity."

And who will get this opportunity?

That's a decision that will be made by Myers, Mike Faulkiner, the director of player personnel, and the Federals' new coach, Ray Jauch of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who will join the team after the Canadian Football League season ends in November.

Reaching the right decisions could be the team's biggest problem. Although Myers is well respected by those who have worked with him, the one area in which he lacks experience is evaluation of talent.

"I know Dick doesn't have a background in scouting, but he knows how to put together a football organization," said Berl Bernhard, the team's owner. "When I first started looking for general manager the possibilities were endless.

"Then I stopped to think what I really needed. I knew I wanted someone who had the experience to organize a team from top to bottom. People told me we had a man right here in town, so I asked one of my associates to go out to Congressional and informally find out if Dick was interested."

"My forte is not evaluating talent," Myers said. "I knew I had to go out and hire someone for that job, somebody I could trust. Mike has been scouting for three or four years. He's a bright young guy with a good eye for talent."

Faulkiner got his start in professional football 1974 from former Redskins coach George Allen, when he was brought to Redskin Park as an intern. Faulkiner left a high school coaching job in West Virginia, living off $10,000 he borrowed from a bank and his expense account.

"That was the best investment I ever made," Faulkiner said. "I learned an awful lot working with the Redskins for five years." Faulkiner, a former quarterback at West Virginia Tech, also has worked for Toronto, the New York Giants and Montreal.

Mike Allman, the Redskins' director of player personnel, describes Faulkiner as "a real hustler, a go-getter with a lot of enthusiasm. He's traveled the country and knows the roads."

Allman says another drawback to the USFL's acquiring talented players is the NFL's recent move to expand team rosters from 45 to 49 players.

"There are always some good players who just don't show the first time around," he said. "Mike Nelms (the Redskins' kick returner) is a perfect example. He was cut (by Buffalo); then he played in Canada, gained some confidence, and now he could play for anybody."

One of Myers' major responsibilities with the Redskins was keeping track of free agents.

"Dick kept a list of every free agent with his up-to-date phone number," Allman said. "It was broken down by position and each player was graded. So if we had a player get banged up in, say, New Orleans on a Sunday, we could go to the list and get somebody on the phone that night."

Myers joined the Redskins in 1973 after attracting Allen's attention by catching the coach trading the same draft choices to two different teams, twice.

"There were four trades involving San Diego, Los Angeles and Buffalo," said Myers, recalling his days in the NFL office as a sort of watchdog for waiver lists, trades and contracts. "He traded his fifth- and sixth-round draft choices, twice."

The following year, Joe Sullivan, the assistant general manager, left the Redskins to go to St. Louis. Allen remembered Myers' penchant for details.

"George called me and said Sullivan was leaving," Myers said. "He asked me if I wanted a job. When I said yes, he said 'Okay, now I'll call (Pete) Rozelle and ask for permission to talk with you.' "

Myers assumed the same duties with the Redskins. Gradually, he was given more responsibility.

"By the time he left, Dick was involved with every phase of the operation," Mitchell said. "He was the detail man."

Myers left all this because, he says, he believes the USFL is approaching things in the proper way and has an excellent chance to be successful.

"Roone Arledge (president of ABC News and Sports) is not a man prone to throwing money away," Myers said, alluding to the two-year contract the network signed with the USFL for a reported $20 million. "ABC did a thorough marketing research survey and decided we were a solid investment."

There are other reasons for his optimism: the team's lease at RFK Stadium, the season will not conflict with the NFL's, and no competition from baseball. Team officials say they already have received 5,000 applications for season tickets, although the prices and schedule haven't even been set yet.

"There's an awful lot of work to do and not very much time to do it," Myers said. "But its a great challenge and it's going to be successful. This is a die-hard football town and there are plenty of fans to go around."