Negotiators for the National Football League and the striking NFL Players Association met yesterday with Kay McMurray, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and McMurray's selection of a mediator to help resolve the 3-week-old dispute was expected to be announced today.
Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFLPA, said through a spokesman that the meeting was called "to discuss the status of the dispute and how mediation will help to resolve it." Participating for the NFL were Jack Donlan, the league's chief labor negotiator, and Sargent Karch, the general counsel to the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm.
Yesterday's private meeting with McMurray was the second time in as many days that Donlan and Garvey have met without their full negotiating staffs. After a Sunday meeting in Rye, N.Y., the NFLPA agreed to management's request to involve the Federal Mediation Service. The Sunday session was the first since talks broke off Oct. 2.
The two sides met yesterday for about five hours and "continued our discussion concerning the issues," according to Garvey. The primary stumbling block in the negotiations is the players' demand for -- and management's opposition to -- a trust fund to pay players on a seniority-based scale, with performance incentive bonuses.
With no formal negotiating sessions scheduled yet, it appeared all but certain that next weekend's games will be called off, making four consecutive Sundays without NFL football. Since no more than two games can be made up, it also appeared that 14 will be the maximum number of regular-season games played this year.
According to league sources, the networks have had some influence in determining the minimum number of games that could constitute a full season. The networks would accept 12, although Rozelle has said 13. The networks also still would like to play those opening wild card games, and would settle for a 12-game schedule plus a full playoff format instead of a 13-game schedule without wild card games.
Rozelle told the Associated Press yesterday in New York that although a 13-game season was the likely acceptable minimum, team owners could easily change their minds and go with 12.
Sources also say that the league has had problems devising a method to determine what games should be made up, if the season contines. Right now, these sources say, the No. 1 idea is to put all the remaining weeks in a hat, then draw out the number of weeks that can't be made up. The weeks pulled out (for example, weeks 10 and 14, if two weeks can't be made up) would be eliminated and the rest of the remaining weeks would be played.
The NFL realizes that this system will leave some teams with more home games than others, and some with more division games than others, but every other method suggested apparently has even more negative aspects. Dallas Cowboy President Tex Schramm, the chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said he had tried several formulas to adjust the schedule in the event of canceled games and that all contained inequities.
Meanwhile, plans for the first NFLPA all-star game this Sunday are proceeding on schedule, according to Brig Owens, who is coordinating the games for the union.
Owens said most of the 80 players forming the NFC East and AFC East teams for the opener at RFK Stadium will be in town today for meetings and possibly a light workout.
But Owens admits the NFLPA expects last-minute legal action from the league, trying to block the game.
Owens declined to reveal the names of any new players added to the rosters to replace those athletes who have declined to participate. Among the dropouts are Joe Theismann of the Redskins, Dave Jennings of the New York Giants and Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets. Owens said there are no more than eight new players.
"The guys gave us their word that they would show up," Owens said, "so we are counting on most of them being here by Tuesday. Some will come in Wednesday."
Tickets for the first game were available through Ticketron yesterday and will go on sale at the stadium today. The teams will use Pro Bowl rules, including no blitzing and standard 4-3 defenses.
The game originally had been scheduled for last Sunday, but was set back, the union said, because of the uncertain legal situation. But Owens admitted the extra time has given the NFLPA "some breathing room to coordinate things. There are a lot of little things that have to be tied together." Blue Bombers Win
Two-time Schenley award winner Dieter Brock threw four touchdown passes to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over visiting Toronto, 39-35, yesterday in the Canadian Football League.
Argos wide receiver Terry Greer broke the CFL single-game pass-receiving record with 16 catches.
Tiger-Cats 24, Roughriders 24: Veteran fullback Mark Bragagnolo caught his second touchdown pass of the game with 2:10 left and Tom Clements passed for the two-point conversion as host Hamilton tied Saskatchewan.