If the current National Football League Players Association strike against the league is settled by the end of this month, the NFL apparently still would try to complete a shortened version of the 1982 schedule, sources among league officials said yesterday.
But a strike lasting into November likely would cause cancellation of the season, especially if the league refuses to reschedule the Super Bowl, set for Jan. 30 in Pasadena, Calif.
Commissioner Pete Rozelle already has said that the two weeks of postponed games can be made up by eliminating the first-round playoff games between wild-card teams and by eliminating the free weekend before the Super Bowl. The NFL played two games before the strike.
Thus, a strike settlement early this week, while unlikely, could allow the league to play a complete 16-game schedule. Starting this weekend, games called off would have to be canceled as long as the Super Bowl date is not moved.
Tex Schramm, president of the Dallas Cowboys and chairman of the NFL's competition committee, predicted that fans would accept a 12- or 14-game schedule. The league played a 12-game schedule as late as 1960. But Rozelle said that any plans for finishing off a shorter season would have to be approved by the NFLPA since a reduction in games reduces revenue.
There are eight games scheduled for November and December. Counting the two already played and two that could be made up, a 12-game schedule could be completed if there is a settlement by Oct. 31 and the season is resumed the next weekend.
The league has not announced how a shortened schedule would be handled. One possibility, which would result in the least amount of juggling, would be to pick up the original schedule at the point at which the strike is settled and then make up two games in early January.
The league would have to devise a system for determining which games are made up. Schramm also said that there may not be a need to make up any games if the strike is settled in time so the league could play 12 regularly scheduled games. For that to happen, a settlement would have to come around Oct. 15, allowing games to be resumed Oct. 24.
In a related matter, individual teams are determining their ticket refund policies, although the league has said that fans will receive refunds for all lost games. A suit has already been filed by a Detroit Lions fan over the matter, seeking an immediate refund; he claims it is unfair the team can earn interest on his money. A suit charging the NFL with breach of contract is expected to be filed on behalf of a Buccaneers season ticket holder today in Tampa.
Gerald Gabrys, senior vice president of the Redskins, said that Washington has not made refund decisions "because of the unsettled nature of the strike. Would we consider refunding money as the strike goes on? That's something we will discuss."