Former Tampa Bay coach John McKay has been heavily fined by the National Football League for ordering his team to allow the New York Jets to score at will so his star tailback could try for an NFL record.

The fine, believed to be between $5,000 and $10,000 -- which would make it the largest ever against an NFL coach -- was levied by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for McKay's actions in Tampa Bay's 41-21 victory the last day of the 1984 season, the New York Daily News said yesterday.

The newspaper reported that sources close to Rozelle said McKay was fined for "damaging the integrity of the league." League spokesman Joe Browne declined to give an exact figure for the fine, but called it "substantial."

McKay, who is now the Buccaneers' president, told his defense to let the Jets to score with 1:21 left in the game, the Bucs ahead, 41-14, and tailback James Wilder 15 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season total-yardage record of 2,444.

New York's Johnny Hector then scored against a defense that didn't make a move toward him with 54 seconds left. That gave Wilder a chance to gain the 15 yards for the record, but the Jets' defense held Wilder to no yards on three carries . . .

An agreement should be reached soon to sell the New Orleans Saints and keep the National Football League team in Louisiana's largest city, Gov. Edwin Edwards said.

The deal will call for "only minimal requirements" of state government, added Edwards, who declined to give details.

Edwards declined to identify the potential buyer, but it was disclosed last week that New Orleans automobile dealer Tom Benson is negotiating with the Saints.