LAKE PLACID, N.Y., SEPT. 11 -- Tuesdays are normally the off days for players in the National Football League. Willie Gault of the Los Angeles Raiders, who usually doesn't have to push many blocking sleds as a wide receiver, spent his off day here pushing another kind of sled -- a bobsled.

Gault, who was an alternate on the two-man and four-man U.S. bobsled teams at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Calgary, was to be part of a three-man team that included Olympic hurdler Edwin Moses and Minnesota Vikings running back Herschel Walker. Walker suffered a hamstring pull in the Vikings game Sunday, so he couldn't attend what is called the National Push Championships. You see, in bobsledding, the push is everything.

"A lot of the technical aspects of the start are the same as in track," said Moses, who took up the sport two months ago. But Moses, who finished third in the individual push competition Monday, now is looking toward 1992, with the hope of becoming one of the few athletes to compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

"Fresh meat," Moses said of the new athletic challenge in his life.

Moses has yet to actually ride down the iced shoot of a bobsled run. The U.S. Bobsled Federation has a practice ramp set up near the village of Lake Placid. A bobsled on wheels, instead of runners, is pushed down a cement ramp to practice starts. The rider and sled then go up a hill to slow momentum after about a 50-meter run.

The idea is to train teams in the all-important start before the World Cup season begins in late October in Europe. The Olympic Trials will be held in March.

"It's exciting," Moses said. "Everyone would like to see what it is like to go down in a bobsled -- anyone who likes roller coasters."

The luge, however, is too exacting.

"I'd rather take my chances running hurdles blindfolded," Moses said.

Gault, meanwhile, wants to be an Olympian after missing chances to do so as a hurdler.

He took the red eye from Los Angeles to Philadelphia early Tuesday and then made it up here. He left here Tuesday night, to be back at practice Wednesday in Oxnard, Calif.

"I didn't ask him, but he has been supportive," Gault said of Raiders owner Al Davis and what he thinks of this bobsled idea. "They know it's what I've been doing in the offseason and don't really care. It's not like skydiving or bungi jumping."

But overcoming the fear involved is part of the process.

"The other thing {besides athletic ability} is mental," said John Philbin, a Gaithersburg, Md., native involved in the training program. "When you get out of a rough run, when you almost go over, you say, 'Yeah, that was great.' You've got to love the speed and the danger. All of that plays on the mind."