Redskins players are almost unanimous in their belief that it is all but inevitable the National Football League Players Association will go on strike next season before a new contract with the league is obtained, an informal poll shows.
But most players also indicated that they needed to learn much more about the NFLPA's potential major bargaining proposal calling for the union to divide up 55 percent of the teams' gross revenue every season.
The contract between the league and the NFLPA ends in July. Negotiations are expected to start sometime in the spring, after the NFLPA holds a convention in March.
The survey by a Post reporter contained responses from 22 players, covering a broad spectrum of the team: rookies, young players with limited experience and long-time veterans.
"The results really don't surprise me that much," said Mark Murphy, the Redskins' standout free safety and player representative. "After the baseball strike and after what a lot of the owners have already said, I'm sure a lot of players feel a strike will occur.
"It's also been difficult this year to educate everybody about the gross-revenue demands. We've had so much personnel turnover that players have been coming in and out all season. Remember, in baseball the players have been professionals for a while in the minors. In football, you are an instant pro on the major level. There are a lot of things to get used to right away."
When the NFLPA last struck the league in 1974, the Redskins were among the most militant and oldest teams in the league. Now, they are among the youngest. Surprisingly, the younger players seemed to accept the likelihood of a strike much more readily than the veterans.
The younger players usually reflected the view of receiver Art Monk, in his second season. "There definitely will be a strike," Monk said. "I just can't believe one will be avoided."
Said rookie guard Russ Grimm: "It sure looks like there will be. It's probable. Look what the baseball players are paid and the football owners make a hell of a lot more money off of us. And if pay TV comes in, they'll make even more."
Grimm, however, also said he needed to learn more about the gross-revenue proposal before he could vote on it intelligently.
Veterans such as Tony Peters usually had an immediate response to the strike question: "I certainly hope not." Peters added: "I'm not a big union man, but it looks like a strike is a good possibility. I'm not really clear on the 55 percent proposal. I think that goes for a lot of players. Not a lot of guys know a hell of a lot about it except the ones who are active (in the NFLPA)."
Clarence Harmon said the league and the players "are probably going to be like two stubborn mules. Neither will give and we'll have a strike. I sure hope not, but I wonder how it can be avoided?"
Linebacker Rich Milot said he liked the 55 percent concept. "I think it gives you a chance to have a longer career. The way it is now, if you are an average veteran player, you get replaced by a younger guy making less money. That wouldn't necessarily be true under the gross-revenue idea. Besides, a free-agency system like in baseball just won't work in the NFL."
Murphy and officials from the NFLPA office have held periodic meetings with the Washington players, starting in training camp. Attendance at those gatherings has been good, Murphy said, but not as high as he would have liked.
"I think apathy is one of the major problems in the NFLPA," he said. "Players are busy during the season, there are a lot of things going. But we've had the seminars, information sheets, brochures, videotape. There really is no excuse for not being informed."
Murphy could find himself in an increasingly more difficult position as the player rep. He is the major link between the team and Washington management and he realizes that being a player rep can be hazardous to one's career.
"I've had a good relationship with management and I hope it continues," said Murphy, whose good-natured ways and quick wit have made him popular among his teammates. "Funny thing is, I'm taking a business course this semester (at American University) and everything really is geared from the management standpoint. I wind up taking labor's side most of the time."
During the off-season, Murphy and some other Redskins will try to keep their teammates informed of developments concerning the contract. As many as 25 Redskins also may attend the NFLPA convention, where the final bargaining issues will be decided.
"I think this is going to be a very educational process for everyone," Murphy said. "The last thing we should want is a strike, but we have to be prepared for one if it comes down to that.
"Unlike last time, this isn't a militant team anymore. It's very diversified. I just hope we can make sure everyone knows what is going on."
Guard Darryl Grant has been moved, on an experimental basis, to the defensive line, where he may play some against the Rams Sunday.