Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann wasn't at last night's Quarterback Club of Washington's 20th Anniversary Awards Dinner press conference at the Washington Hilton, but he was the topic of the evening.

First, his name came up at the interview session with the Chicago Bears' Jim McMahon, named by the club as the national professional quarterback of the year. He was asked about Theismann's remark a few weeks ago that the free-spirited McMahon was a bad influence on youngsters.

Then, the subject of Theismann was directed at Jay Schroeder, who will compete with the veteran for the Redskins' starting spot next season.

McMahon said of Theismann's comment: "I really don't know if he did say it. I've been misquoted when I've said things. I've read some apology [from Theismann] in the newspaper . . .

"I think kids try to imitate people they see on television . . . Whether or not they're fascinated with me, that's one thing, but if they want to live like me is different . . . I think you should have fun at your job."

McMahon wore nothing outrageous last night, no headband that would cause a stir. When asked if the media had given too much attention last season to his brand-name headband, McMahon said: "I don't know what the deal is. I've been wearing a headband since college.

"I only wear it in the games. You all have quite an imagination. I'm tired of being asked where's my headband. I wear it to keep my helmet from rubbing against my forehead."

For Schroeder, who became the Redskins' starter when Theismann broke his leg in the 11th game last season, an invitation to the dinner with quarterbacks such as Jim Plunkett and Jim Kelly wouldn't have seemed possible last August.

"They're my peers for sure," he said. "I look up to them. I never thought that I would see a day like this. It's a big thrill because I've watched these guys for a long time. Nobody expected anything of me. Now everything is snowballing."

As for his duel with Theismann next season, Schroeder said that neither should have an advantage going into training camp. "I look at it as that we are equals," he said.

"I'm going into Carlisle [training camp] and work hard. If I do, I'll have a shot . . . . I think it will [be difficult] because I know Joe Theismann, and he will not give up. He will come out strong, but that will be good for me. Competition is what the game is all about."

Former greats Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins and Sid Luckman of the Bears were the first inductees of the National Quarterback Hall of Fame. Other quarterback awards went to Chuck Long of Iowa, Jeff George of Warren Central High School (Indianapolis), Stan Gelbaugh of Maryland and Phillip Barnhill of Archbishop Carroll High School.