A federal jury yesterday awarded approximately $10 million in damages to 235 former reserve players in the National Football League who alleged that their $1,000 a week salaries during 1989 violated federal antitrust laws. The jury deliberated less than a full day. In antitrust cases, jury damage awards are automatically trebled, in this case, to approximately $30 million.

The case involved players who were paid under a special league provision that created developmental squads for the 1989 season. Under the plan, the 28 NFL teams signed up to six rookie players each and assigned them to a "developmental squad." The provision fixed the salary for those players at $1,000 a week. The developmental players practiced with the team but did not play in games.

The $1,000-a-week pay scale lasted only one year. It was replaced in 1990 by a provision for "practice squads" whose members were paid at least $3,000 a week.

Also yesterday, the NFL lost another decision worth almost $30 million in a case before the National Labor Relations Board. The board affirmed a 1991 administrative ruling that the NFL owners broke federal labor laws during the 1987 strike by shorting each player a week's salary.

In that case, the NLRB's enforcement staff alleged that NFL owners discriminated against striking players and refused to pay them for the week in which the strike ended. For their part, the owners claimed that the striking players were not entitled to be paid because the strike ended on a Thursday, one day after the deadline for reporting to practice for that week's game.

Greg Aiello, communications director for the NFL, said the league would file appeals in both cases.

The league released a statement saying both the verdict and the NLRB decision "have no practical impact on current league rules and policies." The statement noted that teams have negotiated salaries with practice squad players during the past three seasons.

"Today's verdict lacks common sense since it rewards a group of individuals who failed to make their NFL teams but who now may receive more money for merely practicing in 1989 than many players earned that year for participating in all 16 regular season games," the league's statement said.

Joseph "Chip" Yablonski, the players' lawyer, said he was very pleased with the verdict, and he said the players had proved they were entitled "to every cent."

Yablonski also rejected the league's argument that some of the former practice players stand to receive more money than some regular players earned in salary.

Yesterday's jury verdict was the latest legal defeat for the NFL owners, who lost a challenge to the league's Plan B free-agency system last month. In the verdict reached yesterday, the league will be forced to pay amounts from several thousand to more than $460,000 to each of the 235 plaintiffs in the class action.

During the trial, an economist from Johns Hopkins University testified that members of the reserve teams would have received an average of $5,189 a week during the 1989 season had they been able to negotiate their individual contracts.

In addition, the league also will have to pay the players' legal fees, which are expected to be well in excess of $1 million. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he will schedule a hearing in 60 days to award attorneys' fees. Another players' case, alleging preseason price-fixing for veterans' salaries, is still pending before Lamberth.

The two-week trial went to the jury only on the question of how much, if anything, the players should receive. Lamberth ruled earlier this year that, as a matter of law, the NFL had violated antitrust laws when it ordered that teams could not pay the players more than $1,000 a week.

"The fact that an employer creates jobs does not allow that employer to violate the Sherman {Antitrust} Act by fixing salaries," Lamberth said in his opinion.