NFL owners will meet Wednesday with representatives of its officials in hopes of reaching agreement on a new contract before the season begins next Sunday.
Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney, who helped settle the five-year dispute between players and owners, will head the NFL group, which also includes Pat Bowlen of Denver and Mike Brown of Cincinnati. Neil Austrian, the league's vice president, has been heading the talks until now."We're hopeful that we can successfully conclude it this week," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said.
The officials are represented by referee Jerry Markbreit and Tom Condon, a lawyer and agent for a number of NFL players. While they have not threatened to strike next week's opening games, the officials reportedly could call a walkout for midseason.
NFL officials are part-time and receive from $1,350 to $2,700 a game depending on seniority. They are asking that game salaries be doubled and that pension payments be increased 300 percent.
The league has made two offers so far.
One would increase the game payments by 40 percent and triple pensions based on years of service. The pension increase would be retroactive.
The other proposal would increase game payments by 50 percent and triple pensions. But the pension payments would not be retroactive.