Player representatives from the National Football League's 28 teams will meet today at NFL Players Association headquarters in Washington to discuss procedures for ratifying the tentative settlement that ended the NFLPA's 57-day strike last Tuesday.
Ed Garvey, NFLPA executive director, said there are still unresolved issues in the agreement, and he said it might be next week before the union's general membership votes on whether to ratify the settlement.
However, in Cincinnati yesterday, the Bengals voted to ratify the tentative agreement without seeing a final version of the proposal.
The word wars continued between Garvey and Jack Donlan, the NFL's chief labor negotiator.
Donlan accused Garvey of breaking his word to approve the settlement. "Your attempts to now renege on an agreement that we have reached are unprincipled and inexcusable," Donlan said in a message to Garvey.
Garvey said yesterday one of the still-unresolved issues was the number of games to be played in the regular season, and he said management was trying to keep its options open to increase the schedule from 16 to 18 games without additional compensation for the players.
Donlan denied this and Jim Miller, a spokesman for the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, said management informed the union Saturday it would not expand beyond a 16-game schedule without first bargaining with the union on that subject.
Today's meeting of the player representatives will determine whether or not players will vote by secret ballot.
It was still unclear on the players would vote on the contract, which allocates approximately $1.6 billion to player costs over five years.
The AP quoted Seattle Seahawks linebacker Keith Butler as saying "the chances of ratifying it are probably 50-50."
Chicago Bears player representative Brian Bashnagel predicted the Bears will vote the agreement down; while St. Louis was expected to approve it.
In San Francisco, the AP quoted Keith Fahnhorst, the 49ers player representative, as saying he and other representatives will attempt to oust Garvey and union President Gene Upshaw at today's meeting. "But I'm not confident we can fire either one of them because a lot of player reps don't want to make a change at this time," Fahnhorst said.