CARLISLE, PA. -- Such a blur, this career of Darrell Green. His eighth season with the Washington Redskins has begun with the birth of a third child, a healed left wrist that has passed every test and a high-pitched laugh that has echoed through a lot of this training camp.

Far from last summer's ugly contract squabble, Green seems thrilled with the idea of finishing his career with the Redskins, not only as a part of the football community, but as a role model for the rest of it as well.

A world-class sprinter who once had trouble sitting still for an interview, he now happily spreads the word of his born-again faith, his work with the District's children and his belief that, at 30, some of his best football has yet to be played.

He's one of the anchors on a defense that has many questions, and was perhaps headed for his fourth Pro Bowl when a fractured wrist ended his 1989 season after seven weeks.

He's wearing a light cast on that wrist even now, but says there are no more problems. The Redskins are holding their breath because they have serious depth problems in the secondary, and Green's ability to stay healthy may be one of several keys to their season.

"I'm ready," he said. "The wrist feels fine. It was a freak play that's going to happen sometimes in this game."

He grew up in a tough part of Houston, the fifth of seven children. His father worked as a lab technician for Maxwell House Coffee, his mother in various delis around the city. They divorced when he was in the fifth grade.

He was always small and remembers having to talk his way onto football teams because "they thought I was too small. Everyone knew I could run and so every football coach thought that's all I could do."

He attended Texas A&I because the coach there, Fred Jonas, was "the only one who wanted me as a football player. Everywhere else I wouldn't even get to meet the football coach. The track coach would come around and say, 'Oh sure, you can play football, but track, that's your main sport.' "

He never thought it was, even after clocking a world-class 10.08 seconds in the 100 meters.

"I didn't know what that time meant," he said. "I just had never followed the sport enough to know that I'd done something special. People still thought I was a track guy going out for football. I thought I was a football player running a little track on the side. That's the approach I had. I might have been small, but I never minded the contact."

By the end of his junior year, when Texas A&I was on its way to an NAIA national championship, he had convinced a lot of others as well. Then, during a senior season when he had 56 tackles and four interceptions, scouts came to Kingsville, Tex., by the dozens.

He was the second, and last, first-round draft pick Bobby Beathard had with the Redskins, and was in camp about two days when he became the No. 1 left cornerback. He has been there ever since during a career that has been a wild and interesting ride.

He has been to the Pro Bowl and been on the trading block. He has blistered some of the NFL's best quarterbacks and been blistered by some of its least likely wide receivers -- like former Dallas slowpoke Mike Renfro. He has proven that speed can burn in several ways.

Green has often taken more chances than other cornerbacks because he had the speed to make up for mistakes. But he has made some mistakes, and gone for some pump fakes that left receivers 10 yards behind him.

Not that the Redskins would trade his speed for better technique. Who else could have come from across the field to haul down Tony Dorsett, in his prime, from behind? Green did during his rookie season.

He has been one of the most popular players on his team, immensely respected by his peers, and a man his coaches occasionally have considered stubborn and uncoachable.

He once told reporters the idea of walking away from football and winning an Olympic gold medal, then returning with it around his neck, floated in and out of his head for several years.

And when millions of eyes were focused on the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, Green asked what the fuss was about and said he could beat champion sprinter Carl Lewis if he had only a couple of weekends to get ready.

No one has proved him wrong. He has won the NFL's "Fastest Man" award every year he entered the competition (injuries sidelined him in 1987 and this year).

If he occasionally liked to dream of being in another place, the Washington Redskins have dreamed of having him seemingly every place.

While never moving him from left cornerback, they've occasionally moved him to wide receiver and used him as a punt and kickoff returner. They believed that if they were blessed with this kind of game-breaking athlete, they ought to try to get the ball in his hands a few more times.

He admits to enjoying the money and the glory that has come his way. But he clearly has struggled with the thought that, while he escaped the inner city, he left behind hundreds of others who didn't have the right parents, coach or circumstances.

He remembers a public appearance for a District of Columbia children's program a few years ago when he was busily shaking hands, posing for pictures and signing autographs. When the day ended, the city officials thanked him for coming by.

Green said, uh, okay, thanks and as he left, he began to wonder: "What have I contributed?"

"An autograph and a smile?" he asked the other morning. "Is that all I'm going to do for these kids? That's just not right. Here I am, I've got money in my pocket and I go in restaurants and they won't let me pay for my food. Many of these kids have nothing and I'm giving them an autograph." He curled his face into a frown, and said he thinks he owes society a little more.

He began trying three years ago by going back to restaurant owners and merchants and saying: "Okay, you love me as a football player and want to do something for me, here's what you can do." He would ask for clothes, food and money, and he wasn't bashful.

He would ask anyone for help, and once when he saw a foreign-born hot dog vendor on the street one day, he introduced himself and asked for a contribution of 500 franks and sodas.

"The woman only half-understood," he said. "I'm there saying, 'Listen, I'm Darrell Green of the Redskins. I need 500 hot dogs.' She's looking at me like, 'What's this guy been taking?' "

Green eventually found his outlet in the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, which now provides food, clothing and company to District kids.

"We called it a foundation for business purposes," he said, "but in the beginning it was just me. I got into it because I'd done things for the {D.C.} Parks and Recreation Department, and I didn't think they were doing as much as they could . . . and I had the means to do more. Kids need role models. Guys in this business may say they're not role models. They may not want to be role models. But we are and everything we do has an effect on someone."

These days, the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation furnishes food and clothing for hundreds of inner-city youth. He also hosts a celebrity golf tournament for Hope Springs Farm, a home for orphans, foster children and underprivileged children.

He's a busy banquet speaker through Virginia, Maryland and the District, and his message is always about the same: Athletes have to set an example. They have money and ought to be doing some good with it.

"I get back to the autographs," he said. "That's just not enough. There are kids that need us. They need to see there are adults who are trying to do good things for {them}. I don't want people who say the right things, I want people who do them."

Coach Joe Gibbs once called him "a little-bitty guy who's a leader on a team of giants."

Coaches like him, teammates like him, fans call his name when he leaves the dressing room and gets into his remodeled Volkswagen bug. He once posed for publicity photos with tackle Joe Jacoby, nearly a foot taller, and says: "Hey, this is a big man's game. It's a miracle what little guys can do out there. I guess I've worked pretty hard, so maybe I should get some rewards."