Chances for resumption of the 1982 National Football League season appeared slim today as both union and management negotiators held fast to their positions following the collapse of contract talks Saturday night between the NFL and the striking NFL Players Association.
Mediator Sam Kagel left this morning for his home in San Francisco after 20 days of unsuccessfully attempting to mediate a settlement, 12 days in Cockeysville, Md., from Oct. 12 to 23 and eight in New York beginning Oct. 30.
Kagel said his continued participation would be futile unless one or both sides changed positions on the basic economic issues in the strike, which was 48 days old today.
But there was no indication of any such movement by either side as the nation's football fans experienced their seventh consecutive Sunday without NFL competition. There appeared to be almost no chance that an agreement could be reached in time for the players to return to practice facilities in time to prepare for next weekend's games.
Reached in New York by the Associated Press, Commissioner Pete Rozelle, added to the gloom, saying that the Jan. 30 Super Bowl date is in serious jeopardy.
"Week by week, it is just trickling away," he said. "Theoretically, the Super Bowl could be moved. We don't have to have hotel rooms to play a Super Bowl game; all we need is a stadium and getting the Rose Bowl would not be a problem. But there are a lot of other factors involved with changing the date and every one of them is negative."
Rozelle said the league would tell the Los Angeles Convention Bureau this week that, because the regular season might not be resumed, the NFL would release its commitment for 5,500 hotel rooms it reserved for players, owners and members of the news media.
Ed Garvey, the executive director of the NFLPA, said the union will never accept management's latest proposal, a 75-page compilation of offers previously placed on the bargaining table that was presented to union negotiators last night.
"Everything we have been fighting for would go out the window with that proposal," Garvey said. "The players will hold out until there's a fair contract proposal on the table that has been negotiated, not shoved down their throats. There is no possibility of the players coming off the strike and giving up everything they fought for."
But Vincent Lombardi, the assistant executive director of the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, said the last management offer was virtually a bottom-line proposal.
"We have not been successful in convincing the union, but that is our position," Lombardi said.
Lombardi repeated that the NFL is firmly committed to a Jan. 30 Super Bowl date, and he said that every day that passes without a settlement further jeopardizes the season.
Leonard Tose, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and a member of the management council's executive committee, was more pessimistic. Asked by CBS News if he thought the season could be salvaged, Tose said, "I doubt it."
Tex Schramm, chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said on CBS: "I think we still have hope (for completion of the season) but there is no question we are running out of time. I think the hope now basically lies with the 1,500 players who are out there as members of the teams. It's really their career and their year in jeopardy at the present time."
He was asked if the Super Bowl could be moved and the season extended to February and March.
"We feel it would be totally impractical and it would be a severe blow to the integrity of the competition that we have in the National Football League to try to extend the season into playing in January and February and into March, where you would be coming into areas where the weather . . . would make the games impractical to play and the abilities of the teams would not be the determining factor.
"The main thing we have to do is to maintain the integrity of the competition. We have learned this fall that people just don't turn on football games just to see football. They turn on football to see competiton that means something. When we get to the point where we are taking the integrity out of the competition, then it would be a very unwise judgment for us to do that."
Garvey, however, said he believes that the season will be resumed and he predicted management negotiators will return to the bargaining table with a new attitude toward the union. "The hard-liners felt they had one more last shot, but it didn't work," Garvey said. He also repeated his contention that the Super Bowl could be pushed back and the regular season extended into the winter.
"I think we will set up a meeting with Jack (Donlan) and one or two others within the next three days," Garvey said.
Player representatives from the NFL's 28 teams are remaining at the Summit Hotel in midtown Manhattan where the talks have been held, despite the lapse of negotiations. Garvey said he soon will call Donlan, executive director of the management council, to seek a resumption of the negotiations, although Donlan said last night, "We're not going to reopen the talks until they have something meaningful to give us."
Lombardi modified that precondition somewhat today, saying bargaining could be resumed if management has "some positive indication that the talks would be constructive, unlike the last eight days."
When the talks collapsed Saturday night, both management and union remained divided over what Donlan maintained was a $250-million gap for the 1983 and 1984 seasons on total player costs, as well as conceptual and philosphical differences on how the money should be spent.
The union wants a minimum wage scale that would pay a major share of player salaries according to a formula spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement.
Rookies would start at $60,000; go to $139,000 by their fourth year, $215,000 by their eighth year and $263,000 by the 10th year.
Management has proposed a more modest minimum scale beginning with $30,000 for rookies and increasing by $10,000 a year for a maximum of 20 years. This could be a base that the players could improve upon by individual negotiations, management said.