Carl Birdsong's 10th and last punt for St. Louis against the Redskins Sunday cost him $5,000. It wasn't long enough.

Birdsong had an incentive clause in his Cardinal contract for a bonus in that amount if he averaged 44 yards a kick for the regular season. He entered the game in RFK with 44 punts for a 44.4-yard average. He ended with 54 punts for a 43.8 average, tops in the NFC--but 7.2 inches per kick shy of his target. His final punt covered 37 yards; 48 would have done the trick.

"I think," said Birdsong, aware of what was at stake, "I basically went out and tried to kick the ball too hard" . . .

Ed Garvey's grip on the NFL Players Association takes another jolt, as the Los Angeles Rams became at least the fifth club whose players want him out as executive director. The vote: 50-0, one abstention. "Fifty of us," reported Ram tackle Jackie Slater, "decided we wanted to ask for Mr. Garvey's resignation. We hope we won't have to do anything else. Otherwise, we'll see about doing it at the (NFLPA) convention" . . .

Sam Wyche, Redskins' reserve quarterback of 1971-73, reportedly has a good shot at the Indiana U. head coaching job if he wants to leave Coach Bill Walsh's San Francisco 49ers staff to go collegiate.

"But I wonder," he cogitated, "if I would get into it and dislike it so much I'd regret the decision." Wyche, 49ers' quarterback coach, said the thought of college recruiting made him "a little uneasy." Another NFL staffer in the Hoosier running: Green Bay's defensive coordinator, John Meyer . . .

Richie McCabe, Broncos defensive secondary coach, died yesterday in Denver after a six-month siege of abdominal cancer. He was 48 and had been a 1959 Redskin and a 1960 AFL all-star (Buffalo) in a pro career begun as a 22nd-round draft choice by the Steelers out of Pitt, where he was a two-way back, in 1955. He went on to assistant-coaching stints in Buffalo, Oakland and Cleveland . . .

"Sparkplug of the year": another national award for a Redskin. Joe Theismann wins it, by vote of writers and broadcasters covering the NFL, and his prize is a 1983 Ford Thunderbird auto from Mutual Broadcasting and Ford's Motorcraft Division. Never mind that Theismann did a bit of work for Mutual this season, previewing Notre Dame games, the citation honors "the NFL player who has the cohesive spark to unite or motivate his teammates and contribute to the success of the team." Presentation is scheduled at the Washington Touchdown Club dinner Saturday, Jan. 22--maybe Mrs. T. can accept if the quarterback is tied up on a playoff weekend?

Add guests of honor for the TD Club's 48th Timmie Awards bash ($80, Sheraton Washington): Herschel Walker, Bobby Ross, Boomer Esiason, Bones McKinney.