More than 87 percent of National Football League players view the gaining of free agency as the No. 1 priority when the collective bargaining agreement expires after the 1986 season, according to a recent players union survey.
The survey also indicated that 72 percent of league players are opposed to random drug testing and that 64 percent feel that once a player becomes his team's union representative, there is an increased chance he will be cut.
The National Football League Players Association released these findings today at its annual Super Bowl week news conference. An average of 35 players from each of the league's 28 teams (45-man rosters) have responded to the survey so far, according to Mark Murphy, the former Redskins safety who is the union's first vice president. Murphy said that although the survey is not yet complete, the current figures give an accurate overall view.
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, said that, along with establishing free agency, players also want to create a system whereby NFL owners have a financial incentive to win.
Murphy said, "All this money made from the Super Bowl is split among all 28 teams. So there is no incentive to win. There's almost a disincentive."
Meanwhile, 29 percent of the players who responded to the survey said they believe there is a drug problem in the league. Another 32 percent of the players said they do not feel there is a drug problem in the NFL and 39 percent said they weren't sure.
Upshaw said that players hope to establish some form of protection for player representatives in the next agreement. Upshaw said negotiations are continuing with Jack Donlan of the owners' Management Council on a variety of issues. In fact, Upshaw said he held talks with Donlan today.