Gene Upshaw, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, said Commissioner Pete Rozelle was "misinformed about the union's role" in statements made to The Washington Post Thursday.
Rozelle said that when the league's collective bargaining agreement and television contract expire after the 1986 season, there will be "pressure on the players association and Upshaw to deliver meaningful gains to their constituents."
"Pressure?" Upshaw said. "There is pressure on us every day, every time a player's contract is negotiated."
Rozelle characterized agents of NFL players as having "taken on that 'Big Daddy' role."
"I don't think (Rozelle) understands the role of the union. We control the agents . . . " Upshaw said. "Even though the agent is sitting in the room signing the contract, the union is in constant contact with him . . . telling him how to structure the contract. There are a lot of things that agents and the league get credit for that the Management Council and the players association should get credit for."
And what of the possibility of a strike? "It will boil down to what the players want," said Upshaw, "and if they want to change the whole system, it could be a tough struggle."