There was mixed reaction at Redskin Park yesterday to the proposition of Ed Garvey, NFL Players Association executive director, that players be paid on a wage scale in relation to experience in the league.
Garvey, who said the wage would be measured against revenues produced by the 28 NFL teams, envisions a scale in which rookies would be paid $40,000 to $50,000 a year, then would receive an annual raise of $10,000 for each season until the fifth year when the annual raise would become $20,000. The average salary in the NFL is $60,000, but that figure is inflated because of high salaries paid to superstars.
The minimum salary in the NFL for a rookie is now $20,000; for a fifth-year player the minimum is $30,000. The current contract between the players and owners expires after the 1981 season.
Garvey added that incentive bonuses could be offered for playing time, starting status and All-Pro recognition.
"It means more money for us. We'll get much more of the percentage of the gross revenue," said Jean Fugett, the Redskin player representative. "Guys won't get cut because they get paid too much. A lot of players don't have much leverage to negotiate from and can't get as much money as some of us.
"There are extra incentives in the plan, such as being a starter, making the playoffs or being selected All-Pro. There will be bonus money for the players, so they'll get a good salary.
"The ball-handling positions have always gotten more money, but why should they? Players are paid for their experience, anyway. Bob Griese makes a good salary, not just because he's a good quarterback but because he's had a lot of years experience.
"Right now, some players are against it. They really don't understand it."
Quarterback Joe Theismann is one player who doesn't like the proposal.
"It's totally wrong. It destroys the player's individualism and takes away the supply-and-demand philosophy," said Theismann. "It's impossible to equalize every player. Each player has different skills and should be paid differently."
Theismann noted that teams have different needs and should have the right to pay their players accordingly.
"Some teams are defense-oriented and pay their defensive players more. Others pay the offensive players. As far as incentive, I have that each time I put my uniform on.
"The proposal just takes away from all the parties involved -- players, owners, everybody," Theismann said. "I hope it doesn't go through."
Fugett said he felt the proposal had a "good chance of being accepted" at the NFLPA convention in Las Vegas Feb. 12-16.
"Once everyone understands all the aspects of it, I think they'll agree with it," he said. "Right now, you pay players for what they did in college, not what they are going to do in pro. The No. 1 draft choices aren't going to like it, but how many Tony Dorsetts and Earl Campbells are you going to have? Players should not be penalized just because they went to an Amherst instead of a Notre Dame."
Reserve safety Mark Murphy said he is in favor of it because it gives (nonstarters) a chance to earn more money.
"Of course, the top college draft choices won't like it. but it sounds fair for everyone," said Murphy.
"It improves everyone's salaries. As a veteran ballplayer, I'd be a fool to say I wouldn't want to make as much money as I could, but it sounds like it should help all of us," said linebacker Harold McLinton. "That's a problem now, everyone worrying about how much someone else is making. If someone can get $450,000, that's fine. Ed represents us and I'll support the proposal because I feel it's for the betterment of all of us."
Paul Sonnabend, the executive director of the NFL management council, the owners' negotiating arm, said:
"We very obviously would be willing to listen to such a proposal at the appropriate time. There are 3 1/2 years to go on our present contract. It ends in July 1982. A lot of players would be unhappy. The most unhappy would be the better players; those who make more than the average. Their salaries would have to come down to pay the others. It could destroy incentive if they were not paid extra to be a super player. Why should they try to do extremely well?"
Garvey said the current system is not working (he noted that of the 126 free agents who played out their options last year, only six received written offers), leaving two alternatives: Complete free-agentry or a wage scale. "We're tentatively convinced the wage scale makes more sense because you cannot have free-agentry with a monopoly."
Coach Jack Pardee said he has always been in favor of a player earning as much money as he was able to.
"Players should be paid for what they contribute each year. I think you have as many good linemen making good salaries as you do running backs," Pardee said, following yesterday's practice. "Of course, you will have a lot of players who take the money and run. And I guess, that's one injustice of paying big salaries."
Ron Saul (ankle and groin), Perry Brooks (shoulder) and McLinton (groin) are all expected to play in what has become a crucial game for both teams in the race for a wild-card playoff berth.