Talks between negotiators for the National Football League and the striking NFL Players Association recessed abruptly here yesterday after the players angrily accused league negotiators of having a "plantation mentality." However, the sides agreed to meet again today, at 1 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Berating management representatives for the lack of progress at the bargaining table, NFLPA Vice President Dan Jiggetts of the Chicago Bears said, "I am outraged by what is happening. You should be outraged. The American public should be outraged."
Jack Donlan, chief NFL negotiator, said he would propose to the union that federal mediators be asked to help settle the strike.
Contacted later, Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFLPA, said, "Our conclusion at this time is that there is no call for mediation. To bring in a mediator at this time would just delay another week."
Following a 10-hour session Thursday, negotiators met only four hours yesterday, and most of that time was spent in lunch breaks and caucuses. They faced each other across the bargaining table for only 1 1/2 hours.
The abrupt recess, called about 4:20 p.m., followed management's refusal to agree to a union demand that players be allowed access to their medical records. "We think it is a basic human right that a person should be able to see his medical records," said NLFPA President Gene Upshaw of the Los Angeles Raiders.
Donlan said he was willing to permit players access to their medical records immediately after their preseason physical exams, but that he would not agree to the players' request that they be able to see their records six times a year.
"That's 330 visits for each club. We thought that was unreasonable," Donlan said. Moreover, he said, some clubs mingle medical and personnel records and he contended it might be inappropriate for the players to see the latter.
"This strike is not over access to records. It is over a wage scale tied to a fund. It's over control issues," Donlan said.
The players' basic demand in the 11-day-old strike is that a trust fund be set up to pay their salaries on a seniority-based scale with performance incentive bonuses, a demand management calls unacceptable.
Since the present rounds of talks began here Thursday, the wage scale has been discussed for only two hours. After negotiators found no common ground on that issue, they decided to move to other issues. But they found those talks equally futile.
The sides have been unable even to agree on such issues as whether trainers should be certified. One union official suggested management was deliberately taking a hard-line position in order to prolong talks in the hope that players would defect from the NFLPA and the union would reduce its demands.
Donlan denied this scenario. "If we were taking a hard line we would have opened up the training camps and invited the players back in," he said. "Their demands are unreasonable."
Garvey, who did not attend the latest bargaining sessions, said the union believes management's posture yesterday "was a deliberate effort to anger the players to walk out. We thought it best to cool it for a while."
Garvey said he spent most of the day talking with the leaders of other unions, seeking support for the strike.
In a related matter, the league yesterday received a reduced second installment from the television networks, which previously have paid the NFL $97 million.
The second installment, due yesterday, was supposed to be for $77 million. However, the networks used limitations built into their contracts to reduce their payments.
Arthur Watson, president of NBC sports, told The Washington Post his network "had a contractual obligation to make the payment. It was made today but there were adjustments."
Asked what those adjustments were, he said, "That is a contractual matter. But we did make adjustments."
There were reports that one network failed to make a payment, but those reports could not be verified.
The networks have come under heavy criticism from the players association for signing contracts last spring that called for continuous payments this season, despite the publicity then that a strike was possible. The union considers these installments to be a strike fund for NFL owners.
But network executives maintain they haven't paid for games that will not be played.
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle confirmed Thursday that the networks paid the first of four $77 million installments in September, after making what he called "a token payment" of about $20 million in the spring. The last two installments are due Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. Rozelle said it will be possible to make up the games already postponed, but no others.
In a letter to Rep. Peter Rodino (D-N.J.), Rozelle wrote that after a two-game strike "any further payments due from the networks will be reduced proportionately according to the value of any lost games going beyond two weeks."
Rozelle's letter, and his statements at a press conference, refuted earlier reports that the first $77 million installment was an advance from 1983 television payments. The letter, however, did not say how much the installments would be adjusted.