The National Football League Players Association's demand for a percentage of the NFL's annual gross revenue grew out of Ed Garvey's conviction that neither a liberalized free agent system nor a predetermined wage scale would result in significant salary increases for his players.

"It began with talk about a wage scale," Garvey said. "But we didn't think that would work. You write a contract that sets out a specific rate for each player and you can't accommodate changes in revenue increases. It is too confining. And as long as the owners won't bid competitively for players, free agency won't work either."

So Garvey and other NFLPA executives and members designed the percentage of the gross concept.

This is how it would work:

Each year, the 28 league teams would contribute an undetermined percentage of their gross revenues (the exact percentage would be determined in negotiations) to a pool that could be administered in a number of ways, perhaps by a joint committee comprised of players and owners.

From that pool, players would be paid according to years of service, not by their position. It is likely that the pool also would be used to back pension and disability funds, health and accident insurance and a severence pay fund.

There also would be various incentives to reward players' performances. Athletes could receive substantial bonuses for making the Pro Bowl, for becoming starters, for minutes played, for their team making the playoffs.

Individual negotiations would be allowed for players seeking more money from their teams, but those payments would come out of the owners' share of the gross. Salaries would be guaranteed once a player makes an active roster; after three years, a player would become a free agent.

Players who now have contracts that call for more than they would receive from a percentage of the gross have the option of either keeping that contract or being guaranteed by the union that they will be paid the same amount out of the gross pool, plus an annual cost of living increase.

The union also has talked about using the gross pool to fund such things as an educational and career counseling program, a medical institute, a mortgage fund for players, a needy player fund, NFLPA charities or assistance for pre-1959 players.