Special honors for two contemporary sports legends will highlight the Touchdown Club of Washington's 53rd Annual Awards Dinner tonight at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Walter Payton, the NFL's all-time leading rusher who earlier this month ended his career with the Chicago Bears after 13 seasons, will be presented with an award for lifetime achievement in the NFL. And Julius Erving, who retired from basketball after last season, will be presented with an award for lifetime achievement in the NBA.

Other special award winners will include: film star Sylvester Stallone, TV personality Willard Scott, entertainer Jimmy Dean, radio personality Bill Mayhugh, former Virginia governor Charles Robb and veteran club member John O'Brien. In addition, a one-time special award will be made to longtime Redskins team photographer Nate Fine.

Two members of the San Francisco 49ers, who were to have received professional football player of the year awards, will not be present, however. Wide receiver Jerry Rice, who has been named to receive the club's first "Golden Timmie" award as NFL player of the year, and quarterback Joe Montana, who has been named to receive the club's "Timmie" award as NFC player of the year, informed officials late this week they would not be able to attend. Joe Montana Sr., father of the quarterback, will appear on behalf of the players, whose trophies will be withheld until special events to be held at a later date, Touchdown Club officials said.

"Normally, we do not give awards to players who will not appear," said Touchdown Club spokesman Marty Walsh, who added the club pays the travel and lodging expenses of out-of-town honorees. "We had been told by the 49ers that Rice and Montana would not attend if the team was in the Super Bowl, but that if the team did not make the Super Bowl they would be here. The 49ers called us on Wednesday and told us that Montana was too tired to come. Then, {Thursday} Rice's agent told us Rice was in Mississippi with his family, was tired and would be staying there."

Rice's agent, Jim Steiner, said: "Jerry's grateful for the award, but he can't do it all. The Touchdown Club is not the issue. The issue is time." Officials for the 49ers could not be reached for comment.

Buffalo Bills linebacker Cornelius Bennett will be given the club's NFL rookie of the year award. New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Mora will be honored as NFL coach of the year and New Orleans President/General Manager Jim Finks as NFL executive of the year.

Syracuse's Don McPherson will be named college quarterback of the year and his coach, Dick MacPherson, will be named college coach of the year.

Other pro honorees: Gary Clark (Washington Redskins offensive player of the year); Barry Wilburn (Redskins defensive player of the year) and Scott Stevens (Washington Capitals most valuable player). The 1987 Minnesota Twins will receive club's Clark C. Griffith Award for outstanding contribution to baseball.

Other college awards: Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown of Notre Dame (back of the year); Outland Trophy winner Chad Hennings of Air Force (college lineman of the year); Holy Cross' Gordie Lockbaum (all-purpose back of the year); Howard's Harvey Reed (local college player of the year).

The four national collegiate football championship teams will be honored: University of Miami (Division I-A); Northeast Louisiana (Division I-AA); Troy State (Division II) and Wagner (Division III).

Best male and female athletes in the military: Naval Seaman First Class David Butler, wrestling; Air Force 1st Lieut. Gail Conway, track and field.

Schoolboy and high school awards: San Clemente Valley (Calif.) High School quarterback Todd Marinovich (Dial male national high school athlete); Kristi Overton, water skier from Greenville, N.C. (Dial female national high school athlete); Seneca Valley High School's Shane Henson (Maryland high school football player); T.C. Williams' Lydell Scott (Virginia high school football player); H.D. Woodson's Henderson Moseley (District high school football player); Georgetown Prep's David Flynn (local prep school football player); T.C. Williams' Glenn Furman (area high school football coach) and St. John the Baptist's Jason Petty (local schoolboy football player).