The executive committee of the National Football League Players Association will meet next Monday, probably in Chicago, to set a strike deadline, the NFLPA's executive director Ed Garvey said yesterday.
The nine-member committee has already been empowered by the full board of player representatives from the NFL's 28 teams to call a strike at its discretion, but Garvey said the executive panel "will set a definite date" at its meeting next week.
The executive committee voted last week to strike between the second and fourth game of the season if a settlement is not reached between the union and the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm.
That vote followed a management offer that would have paid players $10,000 a year for every year in the NFL up to a maximum of $60,000, plus their already negotiated salaries, within 15 days after the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement. But the players termed the offer an insult and turned it down.
Garvey, interviewed on ABC-TV's "Sportsbeat" show, criticized NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle for not acting as the owners' spokesperson at the bargaining table. Garvey said management has sent "country club negotiators to the table, who negotiate between 11 and 4 in the afternoon, with a long lunch break."
The NFLPA director also accused the owners of "massive unfair labor practices" which are "forcing us to rethink the timing of the strike."
Rozelle said yesterday the latest offer by NFL owners is a good sign a strike might be averted.
"I think they (the owners) decided they had to make some movement because Ed Garvey has not gotten off 55 percent of the gross," Rozelle said, in Minneapolis for the regular-season opener between the Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"They made some movement. They said here is an offer. It's not 55 percent, but it demonstrates the sharing principle, both retroactively and for the future. I think it was solid movement. It told the players they are entitled to more money."
Rozelle said he didn't know how much of a role he would be able to play in the negotiations. "I'm trying to watch as closely as I can," he said. "Perhaps, if it works out that way, I can act as an escape valve, sit in on the negotiations helping with the give and take."
As far as team player representatives being cut, Rozelle said he didn't believe it was because of the strike. "I think a coach would play his grandmother if he thought he could win," Rozelle said.