The National Football League announced officially yesterday that all 12 NFL games scheduled for Sunday had been called off because of the players strike, but negotiating principals in the dispute were in touch with each other about resuming talks soon.
At a press conference here, NFLPA Executive Director Ed Garvey said he has sent a message to Jack Donlan, the NFL's chief labor negotiator, suggesting a resumption of contract negotiations.
"It is our feeling that it is time to bargain around the clock," Garvey said. Negotiations broke off last Friday in New York; the strike began Tuesday.
Donlan's reply said, "We are and have been ready to bargain for months. We are prepared to meet with you at a mutually agreeable location. I will call you tomorrow (Friday) morning about establishing a site."
Later last night, Garvey said he hopes negotiations can be resumed here today. "I hope we can get together. It's time to get rolling," he said. Garvey said Gene Upshaw, president of the players union, was on his way here from California.
In a related development, the NFL Players Association filed suit to allow players to participate in a series of NFLPA-sponsored all-star games beginning Oct. 10. Jim Miller, a spokesman for the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, said management is sticking to its position that the standard NFL player contract prohibits players from playing football for anyone but the NFL. The management council will take "appropriate action" to defend itself against the suit, he said.
In another development, NFL sources claimed that the management council has attempted to restart negotiations by telling Garvey the league will guarantee, in writing, that the players would receive all $1.6 billion of its last offer by the time the proposed five-year contract expires in 1986. In turn, the league wants a concession from Garvey: He must abandon the wage scale concept included in all of the union's offers since negotiations began in February.
Garvey, whose last proposal totals $1.6 billion over four years, vehemently denied that the league is offering a guarantee. "Absolutely not true," he said in response to a question.
The guarantee for the full amount of the contract is crucial to the players because $1.2 billion of the offer is based on an estimate that, through individual negotiations, player salaries will increase 15 percent per year over the length of the contract. If that estimate proves too high, there could be a large amount of money undistributed to the players by 1986.
"One of the things being kicked around now," said a league source, "is how we would distribute the leftover money. The system has to be worked out. But we are convinced it can be done. But first, the NFLPA has to agree to work within our system (individual negotiations) and not the wage scale. They do that and we'll put the $1.6 billion guarantee in writing."
Since making the $1.6 billion offer Sept. 8, Donlan, the executive director of the management council, has stopped short of saying publicly he would guarantee it to the players.
Regarding the suit that would allow players to participate in all-star games, Garvey said the union went to court because management had publicly threatened to do just that to stop the NFLPA-sponsored games.
Essentially, the suit seeks a declaration that players should be free to play during a strike which the NFLPA contends has been brought on by the unfair labor practices of the management council, the league and its member clubs.
Moreover, the lawsuit contends that since the old collective bargaining agreement has expired and since management has locked out any non-striking players from its practice facilities, the players should be free to play football elsewhere.
Garvey said ballots have been distributed to players, who will elect players on the all-star teams. Current plans are to have six teams, one each from the East, West and Central Divisions of the AFC and NFC.
The NFL's decision calling off this Sunday's games marked the first time in the six-decade history of the league that a weekend of games had been called off because of a strike. NFL spokesman Jim Heffernan said no decision had been made concerning Monday night's game between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, striking Redskin players held a second workout yesterday at South Lakes High School in Reston, and now will take the next three days off before resuming Monday.
Thirty-nine players participated in the 90-minute practice, which was much more efficient than the initial workout Wednesday. Over the two days, 40 of the 49-man active roster showed up. Among the missing were Joe Lavender, John Riggins, Jeris White and Rick Walker. The first two are injured, the latter two reportedly have returned home.