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Substitutes will work NFL games 2nd week

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NEW YORK — The NFL, operating from a position of strength following two uneventful weeks of games with replacement officials, refused to meet with the NFL Referees Association to discuss the lockout.

At least not until the union changes its request to triple salaries.

As a result, replacement referees will work games for a third straight week.

"I'm willing to talk any time," Tom Condon, chief negotiator for the NFL Referees Association, said Monday after the NFL rebuffed his request for new talks.

Condon, chief negotiator for the NFL Referees Association, made the offer Monday in a call to Jeff Pash, chief negotiator for the league. But NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said it was clear that there was little hope of progress.

"We have notified the alternate officials that they will be on the field in Week 2," Aiello said. "It was clear following an exchange of phone calls between Tom Condon and Jeff Pash that a meeting would not be productive. We have an offer on the table that they don't seem to want to talk about it."

On Saturday, the NFL rescinded its offer for a 60 percent wage increase and the doubling of salaries by 2003. The current offer gives the officials 20 percent this year and 75 percent over five years in a seven-year deal, up by two years from the original offer.

Replacements have worked the final week of the preseason and the first week of the regular season. There have been few controversial calls — no more than the NFL has in any week with its regulars.

Aiello said that in their discussion, Pash told Condon not to come alone. He asked him to bring at least some members of the officials' negotiating committee, which consists of Ed Hochuli, Jeff Bergman, Ben Montgomery and Bill Carollo.

Condon, who lives in Kansas City, was at the Chiefs-Raiders game Sunday and called it the worst officiated professional game he had ever seen. Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon, a client of Condon's agreed.

But the lack of controversial calls in 30 games worked by replacements through Monday — 15 in the final week of preseason and 15 regular-season openers — has encouraged the league.

Most players, fans and coaches have had few objections to the replacements, although a few — like Washington's Bruce Smith — vociferously denounced their work after Sunday's games.