Now that the strike has arrived, there is confusion on both sides about what to do next.
The owners have considered playing games with free agents and nonstriking players. But the Eagles' Dick Vermeil and the Bears' Mike Ditka said yesterday they don't want to coach such teams.
"I have no interest at all in coaching a scab football team," Vermeil said at a luncheon in Philadelphia. "Maybe (NFL commissioner) Pete Rozelle can make me, but right now I'd refuse."
"Would you go to a game like that?" Ditka asked UPI in Chicago. "It would be an impossible thing to do."
In New England, Dick Steinberg, the Patriots' director of player development, said, ". . . if 25 stay and 24 leave, we can probably bring in bodies. If not too many players walk, we have a list of players to contact, most of whom have been in camp and know the system."
But Patriots player representative Don Hasselbeck said the players voted unanimously, two weeks ago, to strike. Hasselbeck said that if the club attempts to "bring in some scabs, we'll set up picket lines."
The NFL Players Association has devised nine weeks of games to be played by all-star teams representing the six divisions of the NFL. The games are to be televised by Turner Broadcasting System of Atlanta.
Sheldon Saltman, the Los Angeles-based executive producer of this NFLPA-sponsored all-star season, said yesterday that two games a week -- one Sunday afternoon, one Monday night -- would be played at 18 stadiums. A championship game would be played Dec. 19 in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, should the strike last that long.
Yet there is confusion here, too.
The first all-star game is scheduled for Oct. 11 at RFK Stadium, according to Mark Berman. Berman is a Southern California rock concert promoter who is part of Catalina Sports Inc. Catalina was created to handle the NFLPA's games.
But Robert Sigholtz, general manager of the D.C. Armory/Starplex, administrator of RFK Stadium, said, "I don't have a contract signed. They haven't put down the deposit, so as far as I'm concerned, they don't have a date yet."
Sigholtz said the deposit will be "a couple thousand dollars. We (the Armory/Starplex) are working on a percentage larger for this game than we get from the Redskins and the Federals of the USFL since they play many games here."
Berman admitted "things could change momentarily."
Berman also said players were mailed ballots late last week to use for voting for the all-star teams. Redskins met last night at NFLPA headquarters to fill them out.
NBC-TV announced it would televise a Canadian Football League doubleheader Sunday in place of NFL games.
The telecast will begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT, with British Columbia playing at Toronto, followed by Calgary at Edmonton at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Robert Wussler, president of Turner Broadcasting, said, "We will syndicate the (NFLPA) games, selling them on a market-by-market basis. Three-fourths of the markets have been sold already. We received strong interest from WTTG (Channel 5) in Washington."
Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said playing in the all-star games "would be something I would have to think about."