The 2011 NFL season has been salvaged as players and owners agree on a new contract
WASHINGTON, DC. (JULY 25, 2011) NBC- The National Football League (NFL) and players have agreed to terms on Monday (July 25) to end their four-month-old lockout and ensure America's most popular sport will go ahead as planned next season. The players must still ratify their decision with a formal
vote once the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) reforms, but that is now just a formality after the feuding sides agreed to a
multi-billion dollar, 10-year deal.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was in Washington to sign the agreement, welcomed the news. "This has been a long time coming and football's back and that's good news for everybody," Goodell said.
Local media said teams were expected to open their doors and allow players to resume training this week while the free
agency period will also commence. The league's 32 team owners voted 31-0 last week, with the Oakland Raiders abstaining, in support of a new collective bargaining agreement they hoped would resolve their bitter labor dispute and ensure the 2011 season proceeds.
But the deal was dependent on the support of the players, who spent days reviewing the proposal before signing off.
"(We're) grateful for all the work that both parties did to make sure we came to this," Goodell said. "We can stand here
today and say football is back."
"I'd like to apologize to the fans, that for the last 5, 6 months we've been talking about the business of football, not what goes on on the field [with] the teams in each market. But the end result is we've been able to have an agreement that will allow this sport to flourish over the next decade. We've done that in a way that is unique among the major sports; every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive. We've improved player safety and we've remembered the players who've played in the past, " New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters.
In Colorado news of the agreement reached a handfull of Denver Broncos players who were working out at a non-NFL owned facility.
"It's been an interesting off-season. Definitely one that I'm not used to and all the guys, you've seen us out here on the fields. We're just trying to stay in shape adn waiting for the word to get ready to play," Brocos free-safety Kyle Mccarthy said.
The regular season will begin as scheduled on Sept. 8 when the Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saint while the
preseason will start Aug. 11. The only game that will be lost will be the annual Hall of Fame Game that was scheduled for
Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. The new deal includes proposals for limits on training and
offseason programs, rookie wage scales, additional funding for retirees and beefed up salary caps after they found a way to
carve up their financial empire. Although NFL players are among the best paid sportsmen on the planet and each of the 32 clubs was on the latest Forbes Magazine list of the world's 50 richest sporting teams, neither side could reach agreement on a range of issues centered around how they should divide more than $9 billion in annual revenues, a figure that was projected to double by 2016.
The players, led by high-profile quarterback Tom Brady, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its owners, who
responded by imposing the lockout. The matter has been in and out of the courts for months, with judges urging both sides to sort out their differences through mediation, but was teetering towards a critical stage with the preseason due to start next month and the regular
season scheduled to kick off.