As the National Football League Players Association strike continues, we are all searching for reasons why. I have been grasping to find out why people making in excess of $200,000 for a few months' work are striking. I listen to the news shows and talk shows to see if I can understand their reasoning. The players say that we should be "open-minded."

What I hear the players saying is: "The fans think we are striking just for money. Well we are not. We want to protect our rights. The fans need to listen closely to our side." So I have. Gentlemen, this is what I hear:

"We want better pensions! We want guaranteed contracts! We want the lowest salary level to be raised! We want financial security! We want a bigger piece of the owners' pie! We want free agency so we can 'auction' our services to the highest bidder!"

Unless I seriously misunderstand what has been said, all of these issues focus on one thing: money. So who do you guys think you are fooling, anyway?

The poor fan is the one who is hurt. Members of the NFLPA are, once again, biting the hand that has fed them well for many years -- and we are getting sick of it.

Be careful . . . you can be replaced!

BILL NAY Dale City

Once again the two spoiled brats are fighting over the other child's toy. It seems that the owners and players get greedier each year.

Now is the time for the fans to let these two brats know just who pays the bills. The fans fill the stadiums, pay to park at inflated rates, pay $2 for a flat hot dog and $3 to $5 for a cup of equally flat beer. But the big money comes from advertisers who hawk their wares during the televised games. Let's see what happens when the fans boycott all products advertised during an NFL game.

Both sides cry about the lack of bargaining between them. A suggestion: binding arbitration with the fans as the arbitrator. Any guts, children?

WILLIAM N. RAPSON Leesburg

I thought I'd pass on an idea my 11-year-old, Billy, had regarding the NFL players' strike:

Why don't the owners figure their probable loss from free agency and then use that money to endow an NFL scholarship fund for the poor? This way the players need not feel gypped, the owners and players could purchase an enormous amount of good will and actually engage football in a fine social action, and together they could give a little back to the group of people who are, arguably, the NFL's biggest fans.

WILLIAM CANNON Wheaton

The NFLPA members expect us to believe they are striking for "dignity" and the "right to choose where they work" -- in other words, free agency. They also want better retirement and pension benefits. Who doesn't?

As a government employee, I am not allowed to strike. Even if I were, strikes are almost always bitter experiences, regardless of who wins or loses. The best way to improve one's lot is to move on to other things. No one put a gun to these players' heads to force them to play in the NFL -- which leads to the conclusion that they 1) want to be there or 2) are not qualified to do anything else. They should play under management constrictions or get out.

Admittedly, the players do have short careers, but they knew that when they entered the league. I am a police officer. I, too, may have a short career; I knew that going in. Many of the players received free college educations because of their athletic abilities. Obviously, many learned nothing while in school; otherwise, they would invest their outrageous salaries a bit more wisely and plan better for their futures.

To top it all off, they have the gall to debase and threaten replacement players for wanting the opportunity to play football (under current management provisions). Things can't be that bad if there are so many waiting in line to play in the NFL.

JOHN J. DeLUCCA II Woodbridge

I find it difficult to sympathize with the NFL players who average more than $200,000 a year in salary and cry that the average player must retire after three years of play. Let me get this straight: a typical NFL player can expect to earn at least $600,000 in three years? I've been teaching school for 20 years, and I haven't reached the $600,000 figure yet.

Perhaps a little "pregraduation" career planning for those hoping to enter the NFL is in order. Play your three years of football, earn your $600,000 by the time you're 25 or 26 and retire from football. Then while you're still young, while you still have your whole life ahead of you, get a real job and see what the real world is all about.

And should you decide to use your mind and pick teaching, or should you decide to put your physical prowess to use and become a firefighter or should you choose to draw upon your daring and courage and become a police officer, perhaps you'll make another $600,000 by the time you're 55 -- if you're lucky!

DOROTHY L. WHITE Alexandria

Redskins fans, unite! Want to end the 'Skins players' strike in a trice? Then pack RFK Stadium starting Oct. 11 and each home Sunday thereafter.

Once those striking louts see that we fans will watch a Gibbs/Beathard football team, the 'Skins strike is history. These first stringers crave attention.

Bet you I'm right.

WALT SMITH Wheaton

I'm at work at 7 a.m., and my day ends at about 7 p.m. I work at least one and often two Saturdays every month, I get two weeks of vacation per year, and I really enjoy my job. I earn approximately 30 percent of what an average NFL rookie earns, I am paying off student loans for both undergraduate and graduate school (no scholarships), and I must also pay for a mortgage and my health insurance.

I understand the issues surrounding the NFL players' strike, and I find it hard to believe the players would strike, considering the quality of their current benefits package. Very few people in our society are compensated as well as these lucky few. I think it is humorous that the players would strike simply to further increase their already incredibly lucrative positions. Instead of feeling satisfied with their pay, pensions and work schedules (offering many months of vacation), the players are more concerned with the owners' profits and free agency.

I'm amazed at how greedy a select group of people can become. The NFL players should count their lucky stars for what they have; they should pray every night the strike goes on that the fans will continue to support them after this ignorant display of greed. I consider their strike a slap in the face to each American who works 10-plus hours a day, year-round, and is compensated only a fraction of what the players earn.

MICHAEL H. SIMON Kensington