Representatives of National Football League owners and players met across the bargaining table and in caucus rooms for more than eight hours yesterday but appeared at the end of the day to be no closer on the basic issue dividing them--a percentage of the league's gross revenues for the players--than they were in February.
Responding to the NFL Players Association's first comprehensive financial proposal, that player salaries be paid from a trust fund drawn from 55 percent of gross revenues, Jack Donlan, chief negotiator for the owners, said the league remains totally opposed to the concept.
"We are not going to buy it, as we were not going to buy it in February. We are not going to buy it in July. We are not going to buy it in September, and we are not going to buy it 100 days into a strike," said Donlan, executive director of the league's management council, its labor negotiating arm.
Gene Upshaw of the Oakland Raiders, president of the NFLPA, angrily charged that "our committee has made every effort possible to negotiate, but we still don't feel management representatives have the authority to negotiate. They keep saying, 'We reject. We reject. We reject.' "
Ed Garvey, NFLPA executive director, while asserting that yesterday's sessions were not as positive as Monday's, nevertheless said the atmosphere remains substantially different from what it was before the 1974 strike.
Donlan said he is confident there will be a settlement.