Talks between the players' union and management broke off again yesterday, each side calling the other inflexible and sending the National Football League players strike into a fourth week with no end in sight.

No new negotiations were scheduled as the union set a meeting of player representatives today in Chicago. The NFL Management Council is expected to meet today or Tuesday, probably in New York.

Jack Donlan, the owners' chief negotiator, said after meeting with NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw for six days that, despite the union's new offer on free agency, "a roadblock" exists and the union has "overreached on any number of issues."

As he did when talks broke off in Philadelphia Sept. 25, he implored the players "to substantially reassess their position." He said it would be fruitless to resume negotiations until the union softens its stance.

"We're stuck on all the major issues," he said. "All we're doing is further entrenching ourselves in the positions we've had all along."

Upshaw contended that the owners never wanted a settlement this weekend. Instead, he said, they wanted to bust the union, continue to field replacement teams and wait at least another week to see how many strikers will defect. He called the issue of free agency "a smoke screen" to obscure "the real issues, which are pension, guaranteed contracts, player rep protection and the whole list of things."

At a news conference after Donlan's, Upshaw said: "Once again, Jack Donlan has walked away from the table and broken off bargaining. No doubt, it was orchestrated. They wanted to walk out yesterday {Saturday}. They came here to test us once again, to see if we could keep the players together."

Meanwhile in Atlanta, Falcons player representative Mike Luckhurst said Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals of the dormant U.S. Football League, contacted the NFLPA about forming a new league. The Atlanta Constitution reported Monday that under Trump's plan, higher-priced players would become league shareholders.

Striking players lost a third straight paycheck yesterday as replacement teams played for the second straight week. Attendance averaged 25,042 at the 13 games, up from an average of 16,987 in 14 games last week and Monday night, but still well below the prestrike average of 58,000 for the first two weeks of the season.

While attendance was up, network officials were expecting television ratings to be down. Overnight ratings of the nation's 15 largest markets will be announced today. The networks have said they will decide on a week-by-week basis whether to televise the replacement games.

This latest round of negotiations, which started Tuesday at Upshaw's home in Great Falls, Va., and moved to a Tysons Corner hotel Thursday, began with the union optimistic about a quick settlement and management significantly tempering that enthusiasm. During these recent talks, negotiators signed off on eight minor issues, about one-fifth of the total.

Not only were the major prestrike issues unresolved but so were two new ones that have arisen during the strike. The owners want a longer contract and the players want the results of the replacement games stricken from the standings.

Last night, Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm said there is no chance owners will give in to that demand. "I'll guarantee you one thing -- these games are going to count," Schramm said during an interview with a Dallas television station.

Before the strike, the owners agreed the new contract would cover three years. Now, they want a six-year deal to ensure "labor peace," as Donlan called it. "We think this industry needs a good, long period of stability and labor peace," said Jim Conway, the Management Council's general counsel. "Our proposal for a longer plan is a peace plan, not an attempt to stall off these talks, not an attempt to derail the process."

Doug Allen, NFLPA assistant executive director, said "labor peace" to management means an end to the union as a force for the players. "Management would simply dictate the conditions of employment and the union as a spokesman for the players' concerns would disappear," he said.

Negotiations broke off, apparently at management's insistence, because the two sides couldn't begin to agree on such key issues as free agency, the pension fund and guaranteed contracts. The pension issue bogged down after management insisted on more control over investments and on keeping all interest those investments yield beyond what is needed to fund the program.

Upshaw and Donlan met less than five hours the last two days. Donlan wanted to break off the talks Saturday, but did not, according to union sources, because of possible public-relations repercussions.

Donlan said it was not the owners' intent to stall talks and see how many strikers would join the approximately 130 who have crossed picket lines so far. "The first two or three days we reached agreement on what I call some minor issues," he said. "But the last couple of days, there was no movement. We'd get close and just get stagnant."

The union says it has completely revamped its proposal on free agency again in the last week, so that it would work within the current framework. Management says the offer maintains the language, "right of first refusal" and "compensation" but still does not meet the owners' concerns of assuring competitive balance.

The union appeared quite serious about its latest proposal regarding player movement. In it, players would be able to seek offers from other teams at the end of their first contract. The current team could keep a player (right of first refusal) by raising the player's salary 20 percent and guaranteeing it.

If the team didn't exercise right of first refusal, the player could accept the offer from the new team and his former team would receive compensation, not from the new team but through an additional draft choice or choices as determined by the player's old salary.

But the owners do not want to guarantee contracts, which is another union proposal. The owners feel that basing compensation on the old salary reduces or eliminates compensation.