NFL Owners Approve Deal to End Lockout

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 9:15 pm (UTC-5)
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National Football League team owners have approved an agreement to end their labor dispute with players that has lasted four months, but the deal is pending player approval.

The owners voted 31-0 Thursday during a meeting in Atlanta on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement that would end the player lockout.

The deal would ensure the 2011 regular season will proceed as scheduled. Team facilities are tentatively set to open on Saturday, and free agency is tentatively set to begin July 27.

But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the the lockout remains in place until the players agree to recertify as a union, and then vote on the new proposal. The players held a conference call late Thursday to discuss ratification of the deal.

Goodell also said the first exhibition game on August 7 between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears has been canceled. He said there is not enough time to prepare for the game.

The lockout, which began in March, is the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987 and its longest ever.