Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, yesterday denounced a plan by league owners to field teams in the event of a players strike and said he is considering talking to unions representing workers from the major networks about supporting any strike by NFL players.

There were no negotiations yesterday, putting on hold attempts to reach a three-year collective bargaining agreement, but talks are scheduled to resume today at 1 p.m. at an undisclosed site. The union has set a strike deadline of Sept. 22.

At a news conference in Washington, Upshaw said owners will be trying to "fool the public" if they field teams made up of free agents and players who were cut in the preseason. The owners, meeting in Chicago Thursday, voted to try to play with anyone who would cross union picket lines.

"It goes to show that they really believe that they can fool the public," Upshaw said. "If they were quality players, why weren't they on the teams? I don't know what to call the game in San Diego {Super Bowl XXII}. If it goes that long, I guess it will be called the Scab Bowl instead of the Super Bowl."

Jack Donlan, executive director of the owners' bargaining arm, the Management Council, said 19 of 28 teams have given $1,000 guarantees to players cut in the preseason. In the event of a strike, the owners would try to sign most or all of the players cut and hope for union members to break ranks.

"The public is laughing," Upshaw said. "I was in a restaurant last night and a couple of waiters came up to me and asked how they could try out for the Redskins. Everyone thinks this is a big joke."

Officials from CBS and NBC, which broadcast the majority of NFL games, did not say whether they would carry games in case of a strike. CBS Sports President Neal Pilson declined comment, as did NBC Sports executives Ken Schanzer and Sean McManus. However, it was learned that NBC had a strike-programming meeting last night.

Upshaw continued to take protective measures for his union if an agreement is not reached.

"I met this morning with members of the AFL-CIO and we're putting together our plan on what we'll do as far as support for the players when or if it gets to the point they need support," Upshaw said.

He plans to meet with leaders of unions that represent workers at NFL stadiums. He said he has not yet talked to TV unions, but added, "It's one thing I will do next week . . . The worst-case scenario is a strike, but if we have to strike we'll try to keep {the substitutes} from playing."

Yesterday, players expressed displeasure with the plan to play in the event of a strike.

Tampa Bay lineman Marvin Powell, president of the players association, said: "They may get one or two players from the 45-man roster to participate. But as far as its intended effect, it's going to fail . . . NFL players are the product. And for the ticket prices American public is paying, they want to see the best players in the world."

In Lake Forest, Ill., Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary, the team's union representative, expressed doubts about the owners' plans.

"I don't know how realistic that is," Singletary said. "I was somewhat surprised by the owners' decision to do this, but I shouldn't have been. Hopefully, they can come to an agreement before the strike date, anyway."

Asked if he had thought about trying to assemble a team of free agents in less than two weeks, Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said, "Whew! Well, every team would be in just about the same shape . . . It would be tough. I should say it would be awfully interesting, especially at the skill positions like quarterback . . . "

In New York, Donlan reiterated the owners' position that playing with free agents isn't "a perfect solution" but added, "It's a new course of action to disengage the cycle of a strike every time an agreement expires."

The key issue separating the sides is free agency for players, which the owners say they will not allow.

Today's negotiations are the first scheduled bargaining sessions in more than a week. Again, each side accused the other or impeding progress.

"As far as making any progress through all of this, there is none yet," Upshaw said. "It's very discouraging, from the standpoint that we've made every effort possible to avoid a strike. But what you get from the other side is total resistance, totally no compromise and totally 'take-it-or-leave-it.'

"I'm willing to do anything that seems reasonable to bring this to a fast conclusion. So far, I have been met with resistance. The tactics we've seen are strictly, plain-and-simple, union-busting; there's no other term to use. When you're dealing with a group of people who refuse to even attempt to meet you halfway, you're headed for a strike. . . "

Donlan said the Management Council "needs the NFLPA" and is not thinking of trying to bust the union. "We made a proposal for settlement on Monday and they have yet to respond," he said. "We put a solid offer on the table . . . Compromise is inherent in our proposal."

Upshaw said that the union has given several alternatives to free agency and several alternatives to most of its proposals.

"We can get the job done and avoid a strike, but only if we get back to the bargaining table," Donlan said.

Elway Gets More

Associated Press

DENVER, Sept. 11 -- Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway has signed a six-year contract extension that reportedly makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

The team's owner, Pat Bowlen, said today that Elway agreed to a series of six one-year contracts beginning in 1988. Terms were not disclosed, but sources said last week the deal is for $12.7 million.