Vice President George Bush praised the National Football Conference champion Washington Redskins last night "for bringing a special feeling of respect and pride to the people of the nation's capital."

Bush, who was given the Washington Touchdown Club's Mr. Sam award at the club's 48th annual awards dinner at the Washington Sheraton Hotel, said, "If we ever had a magnificent demonstration of sports being a unifying force in our community, it was today . . ."

Bush, an avid jogger and tennis and racquetball player and a former baseball captain at Yale, was introduced by former Redskins running back Larry Brown, who 10 years ago led his team to an NFC championship and its only previous appearance in the Super Bowl.

Praising Bush's continued participation in sports despite a busy schedule, Brown said he "sets a fair example for all of us."

Jack Klugman, the actor who plays "Quincy" in the television series, and Oscar Madison in the "Odd Couple," won the club's Hubert Humphrey award, the other major nonathletic award at the banquet.

Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who arrived at the banquet just as he was being introduced at the head table, won the Motorcraft Sparkplug award.

"I am only standing here as a symbol for our football team," said Theismann, who received a standing ovation, as did Redskins kicker Mark Moseley and defensive lineman Dave Butz.

"One thing that you have to understand about the Redskins is that no one man is a sparkplug for the football team," Theismann said.

Moseley won the club's NFC player of the year award, and San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts the AFC player of the year award. Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, who did not attend the banquet, was named NFL coach of the year, and Maryland's Bobby Ross the college football coach of the year.

College awards went to Stanford quarterback John Elway as back of the year and to Billy Ray Smith of Arkansas as lineman of the year.

Norman (Boomer) Esiason, the University of Maryland quarterback, was honored as the local college football player of the year.