The National Football League Players Association began a drive to push its proposal for a radical restructuring of wages by meeting with more than 100 players yesterday at the Sheraton Washington.
The union's collective bargaining contract with management will expire in 1982. The NFLPA is proposing the players be paid from a pool of 55 percent of the teams' gross revenues, instead of players bargaining individually with management, as is done now.
Yesterday's session was the first of four weekend meetings in different regions of the country. Other meetings are scheduled in April (San Francisco), May (Houston) and June (Chicago).
"With these regional meetings, we can reach more of the players," said Jay Benoit, a union spokesman. "We've scheduled these for the weekends to make it convenient for players who have full-time jobs. And with the smaller groups, we'll get more feedback."
The union will meet twice more with each team after the regional gatherings, Benoit said. Final decisions on the wage-restructuring plan probably won't be made until the players' annual meeting after next year's Super Bowl, he said.
The union is using 55 percent as a guidleine because it was the average cut of the gross revenues the players were paid in the year before the National Football League and the American Football league merged, according to the union director, Ed Garvey.
The union says that in two other major professional leagues, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, the players receive approximately 55 percent of the teams' gross receipts. Pro football players receive 28 percent, the union maintains.
In addition to explaining its basic proposal for wage-restructuring, the union is meeting with the players to establish what guidelines would be used to pay salaries, Garvey said. "Years of service, amount of time played and special honors, such as the Pro Bowl, would be among the criteria used to differentiate players' salaries," he said.