As 10 more National Football League players crossed picket lines yesterday, union chief Gene Upshaw said the league's owners have failed to negotiate fairly with the union because he is black.

"I didn't want to say this," he said at a news conference yesterday in Washington. "But I think they're having a lot of trouble with me. They're having trouble with me because I'm black . . . "

He is the only black leader of a major national union and the only black member of the AFL-CIO executive board.

He said that because he is black the owners perceive him as militant and hostile. "When all else fails," he said, "they'll try to divide us along the lines of black versus white . . . But that's not going to change my resolve."

He declined to single out owners by name, and very emotionally said he could not elaborate because he had to leave immediately for his grandmother's funeral.

"To hear Gene saying that is sad," said Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm, "because I've known him for 20 years and it just sounds very, very much out of character. He's got great rapport with the owners in the league. So, it's shocking for me to hear him say that. The racial issue has never been a part of our talks. There have been no angry words or anything like that. . . . To me, it sounds like a man drowning in his own pool."

The NFL Management Council, the owners' negotiating arm, issued a statement, saying that "race has never been a factor in these negotiations."

In a related development, Miller Brewing Co., a major sponsor of NFL football telecasts, said it was pulling its television commercial from this weekend's lineup of pro football games.

Meanwhile, several starters and regulars returned to their teams yesterday and the Buffalo Bills apparently considered ending their walkout as a team before deciding to stay out for at least a while longer.

Running back Tony Collins became the first New England Patriot to cross the picket line. Starting safety Antonio Gibson and cornerback Gene Atkins reported for practice and said they will play Sunday for the New Orleans Saints against the Rams, who said quarterback Steve Dils and running backs Mike Guman and Charles White crossed the picket line in Los Angeles. And in Denver, linemen Bill Bryan and Dave Studdard, both starters on offense, reported to the Broncos.

There was also a hint of another big-name defection when Lawrence Taylor of the Giants, the league's most valuable player last season, told WNBC-TV in New York he might cross the line next week if the strike isn't settled.

"Hopefully, it can be worked out before I have to make that decision but, if not, I'll have to make my own," he said.

Any striking player who reports to his team before 9 this morning is eligible to play this weekend. Two more Cowboys, Bill Bates and Everson Walls, are expected to return. And a league management source said the Raiders and 49ers expect several veterans to return in time for next week's games.

One veteran who never honored the strike, Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets, encountered more problems yesterday when he drove his car through a picket line of striking teammates and was, according to a witness, spit on.

Teammate Reggie McElroy apparently pounded on Gastineau's car as it entered the practice facility gate, and union representative Kurt Sohn said Gastineau, "came out of the car swinging. . . . He was trying to take on the whole team."

Gastineau said later: "I had to get out and defend myself when someone spits at me. My grandmother would have gotten out and defended herself if she was spit on. I know {Jets owner Leon} Mr. Hess wouldn't spit on me if I had decided to go the other way."

In Orchard Park, N.Y., Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly said he will not come back to play until his teammates do, but criticized the NFLPA, saying he isn't sure "what the real reason is why we're striking."

The Chicago Bears voted to continue honoring the strike and Kelly said the Bills players talked yesterday about going back to work. "Things have been discussed; I can't lie and say they haven't," he said. "But right now, we're sticking together and practicing and that's the main thing."

One player who had crossed a picket line, receiver Walter Murray of the Indianapolis Colts, rejoined his striking teammates. "I thought it over and said, 'God, we're 0-2, and the worst thing we need when we come back is to have a confrontation with the players," he said.

Tony Dorsett of the Cowboys, who had decided Wednesday to cross the line, said he still supports the union. "I had no choice but to come in because of my financial situation," he said. He returned to play after Schramm said in a letter that Dorsett stood to lose, among other things, his annuity if he didn't return to play.

The Dallas Times Herald reported several Cowboys sources as saying Danny White told them one reason he returned was a $300,000 salary advance he received to cross the picket lines.

In Washington, NFLPA general counsel Dick Berthelsen said a salary advance would be an "illegal inducement" and a threat of loss of annuities would be "unlawful coercion." Schramm disagreed.

"When we do annuity-type contracts that provide security for a player's future," Schramm said, "we in turn expect security for the present, that the player is going to perform."

Meanwhile, top labor leaders joined Upshaw and the NFLPA in decrying the playing of games with nonunion players, although Upshaw said there would be no violence and no attempts to stop fans from entering stadiums. Owen Bieber, president of the 1 million-member United Auto Workers, urged pro football fans to boycott this weekend's games.

In Philadelphia, where the Eagles will play the Bears on Sunday, Teamsters spokesman John Morris said: "My opinion is that we'll shut the stadium down. We're just not going to let them run a scab football team here. We're the largest union in this city; there are 85,000 Teamsters in Philadelphia. All the trucks in this city will be working Sunday. They may all be going in the same direction."