Ed Garvey, executive director of the Nfl Players Association, said today the union will bargain for revenue sharing and as much as 55 percent of the league's gross income for labor contract runs out following the 1981 season.

Admitting that the free agency system the union won in its last agreement with the league does not work, Garvey said the union's top priority is to seek a percentage of the gross revenues. "If the league gets a larger television contract," Garvey said, "a bigger part of cable television and raises ticket prices, we'll grow with them.

"We're looking at a system where the players would be compensated by years of service in the league, with starters getting more than backups. We think it would be the first opportunity in the history of sports to rationally figure out how to pay players."

Garvey said NFL players are now receiving 28 percent of the gross in salaries and averaged about $75,000 a year in salary. By comparison, he said, National Hockey League players are now getting 55 percent of the league's gross, and NBA players are getting slightly more than 55 percent.

Garvey also estimated that the next television contract will double the amount teams now get from the networks -- from $5.8 million to $12 million a year -- and the players want a piece of that lucrative pie.

Using the 55 percent figure, Garvey estimated the amount of money each team makes now -- an average profit of $6 million annually -- would mean an average player salary of $130,000 a year under his revenue sharing plan. And by 1982, he said, the average player salary would be close to $210,000.

"The reaction of the players has been excellent in talks we've had around the country," Garvey said. "And we have no doubt that we could strike effectively if we have to. We are a much different organization now then we were before. When we got to the table in 1982, we're a much stronger organization than we had in 1970 and 1974."