Ed Garvey, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, said yesterday the players may demand as much as 65 percent of the league's gross revenues in their next round of contract negotiations, not the 55 percent he had been reported this summer as seeking.
Meeting with editors and reporters of The Washington Post, Garvey said he has spent much of the fall traveling the country meeting with NFL players. He said many thought 55 percent of gross revenues to be a conservative demand.
Garvey quoted one player as saying, "Who thought of 55 percent? We should get 85 percent."
With the contract between the NFL and the NFLPA due to expire July 15, Garvey said the union is more united than ever before and that members will be seeking greater protection against injuries in addition to increased salaries through the percentage of gross revenues arrangement.
Although it is strongly opposed by the NFL Management Council, that concept, as envisioned by Garvey, would channel a percentage of all revenues generated by the league into a trust fund to be jointly administered by representatives of the NFL and the NFLPA.
Garvey said the union will seek a base salary scale that would begin at about $75,000 for rookies and increase to $600,000 for veterans with 16 years of NFL experience.
Base salaries would be supplemented by incentive bonuses, tied to performance, and money would be set aside to reward teams gaining the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
Garvey said that, initially, the NFLPA leadership had suggested alloting $44 million for the playoffs and Super Bowl, but that most players seemed to favor a smaller pot, with the difference going toward base salaries or the incentive bonus pool. The latter would reward players who earn starting assignments or turn in outstanding performances on the field; it would come from the gross revenue program and would be administered by the union.
"Base salaries would not be tied to position," Garvey said. He added that "any player in the league would be free to negotiate his own deal over and above the base salary, and that superstars should be able to do this easily."
On the issue of player safety, Garvey said the union wants players to have the right to be treated and examined by a physician of their choice, not the team doctor. Decisions on whether a player is healthy enough to play or when he needs an operation should not be made by a physician whose primary allegiance is to the team's management, he said.
"Team physicans," Garvey said, "should be chosen jointly by the players and management and should be subject to firing by either."
He also said players would seek a voice in any rules changes. The issue of free movement by players from one club to another -- the key issue in last summer's baseball strike -- is not a major factor in the football negotiations, Garvey said, "because NFL owners have shown they are not interested in bidding competitively for players."