The NFL's on-again, off-again negotiations with the players association had an unusual twist last night as WUSA-TV-9 stepped in as a mediator of sorts.

After NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw ended a news conference, he came on live on Channel 9's "Eyewitness News" with reporter Ken Mease. Upshaw sounded optimistic about reaching a settlement soon.

"I would like to see the regular players on the field on Sunday. . . . If we can reach an agreement on our memorandums, I'm sure that we can get the regulars back," Upshaw said.

Then, Channel 9 switched to reporter Chris Gordon in New York, where Upshaw's interview had been beamed by satellite to WCBS and watched by Management Council members.

"I've got a response for Mr. Upshaw, and it's not optimistic," Gordon reported. "The Management Council just told me they find no hope in this situation and the statements Mr. Upshaw just made. . . . They said they will guarantee the players two games of salary if they return. They are not increasing that, as Mr. Upshaw has just asked.

"And finally, I was just told by John Jones of the Management Council, who was watching on TV: 'There must be substantial reconsideration of the union position or there is no room for discussion.' We are still where we were when we left Tysons Corner . . . they are not at all optimistic up here that we are near a settlement of the strike."

WUSA sports anchor Glenn Brenner said, "That's live television at its best."