NFL Owners Approve Deal to End Lockout

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 12:05 am (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 Oakland Raiders abstained from the vote.

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, but the call ended without a vote being taken. Sources close to the players’ union say there are still some unresolved issues in the owner’s agreement.

It is also uncertain when or how the league’s 1,900 players will vote on recertifying the union.

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

The agreement approved by the owners includes an expanded team roster, reducing off-season workouts, and imposing a salary limit on first-year players.

Goodell 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.