Efforts by the National Football League Players Association to set a date for resumption of contract negotiations failed yesterday when the league's chief negotiator told the union there still was no reason to start talking again.
The NFL's Jack Donlan said he told Ed Garvey, NFLPA executive director, "There won't be any change in our position (on rejecting a wage scale), so I won't have to call you back" to set up a bargaining session. Negotiations broke off Saturday.
In a related matter, The Washington Post has learned, the sides agreed during last week's mediation process that players now will have limited access to their medical records.
The union had been seeking unlimited access, while the league had been refusing any access. Sources familiar with the negotiations said players now will be able to look at their records, but that limits will be placed on their availability. Access to medical records had been one of the more controversial noneconomic issues in the negotiations.
On the 35th day of this emotional strike, the sides couldn't agree about even what was discussed between Garvey and Donlan in a short phone conversation.
Garvey's version was that Donlan told him "he was meeting with his people (the team owners) today and tomorrow and they were putting something (a proposal) together, so we are assuming we'll start talking again Wednesday. I don't know what he is thinking (about a new date)."
Said Donlan, "That's totally, 100 percent untrue. I told Ed that we just had 12 days of intense mediation and the mediator declared an impasse. He (Garvey) said why not call him after I meet with my owners. I said there won't be any change, so there was no need to call . . . If I read it right, the average player doesn't want to be out there (on strike) for the wage scale. What I think happened is that Ed oversold the wage scale and now he's got some major problems."
Donlan said the NFL Management Council's executive committee met for an hour yesterday and did not discuss reopening training facilities or devising new contract proposals. He also said the committee did not set a date by which a settlement must be reached to keep the season viable.
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said earlier this month that if players were not back practicing by today, serious consideration would be given to canceling the season.
"At some point . . . you can't play a season," Donlan said. "It just won't make a lot of sense. No matter what the union says, the Super Bowl can't be moved. Once the possibility of 12 games comes and goes, it seems the season becomes a wash. There really hasn't been any talk of playing less than 12 games."
Garvey, however, said a 16-game season was one of the subjects union leaders discussed yesterday.
The union had hoped that a show of unity at a player representatives meeting here Sunday would back the owners off their long-standing objection to the wage scale. A resolution was passed at that meeting that, they hoped, would result in a new proposal from management to counter the wage scale demand.
But Charles Sullivan, chairman of the management council's executive committee, reiterated yesterday that "Mr. Garvey is misleading his players. There is no basis for negotiations...I don't think Mr. Garvey should make any more calls unless he is prepared to modify the union's structural proposals . . . We don't think it is appropriate to make any more proposals right now."
Donlan also vigorously disagreed with a statement made Sunday by Mark Murphy of the Washington Redskins, who said mediator Sam Kagel called Donlan "a liar" regarding statements attributed to Kagel about the wage scale during negotiations.
"Kagel didn't recommend against the (wage scale); he just said that putting money into a fund is a mistake," Donlan said. "Mark Murphy seems to be spending a lot of time. . . running me down." Attempts to reach Kagel were unsuccessful.
Donlan: "I have no idea when negotiations will resume. They better reassess their position. Otherwise, things will stay at an impasse."