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NFL players and owners reach a deal, season preparation begins

7/28/2011, 10:47 a.m.
NFL players and owners reach a deal, season preparation begins

America can return to normal again. There will be football this fall.

After a 136-day lockout, National Football League owners and players agreed to a new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement on Monday after the players' executive committee and the players' representatives from all 32 NFL teams voted yes to a deal the owners approved of on Friday.

Teams have now opened up facilities to players and draft picks can now sign with their teams and rookie free agents were able to start negotiating contracts with teams.

Many of those involved in the negotiations were quick to breathe a sigh of relief.

"This is a long time coming, and football's back, and that's the great news for everybody," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We know what we did to frustrate our fans over the last several months. They want football, and our job is to give them football. We think through a 10-year agreement here we've secured the future of the game to ensure we bring great football to our fans."

"Yes, I am celebrating. A great feeling," stated U.S. Magistrate and court-appointed mediator Judge Arthur Boylan.

"It's a great day," said National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) president Kevin Mawae. "We stand on the eve of the day when football gets back to business. Our players can't be more excited about going back to doing the thing they love the most." NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith had a somewhat different perspective reminded the public that the players didn't really get all that they wanted in the new CBA.

"We didn't get everything that either side wanted," Smith said. "But we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced."

The new, 10-year CBA controls rookie salaries, puts less demand on players during the offseason and allows players to declare free agency after their first four years of service in the league. But the CBA also gives the owners a 6 percent increase in their share of revenue and contains a no opt-out clause for the players so they're stuck with this deal for the next decade. Mawae, however, told reporters that the increase on ownership revenue was fine since the new CBA also called for a price floor, which forced owners to put a certain amount of money back into improving the team.

"It doesn't matter if revenues go up or down," Mawae said. "The percentage will always be the same."

But a few issues still remain. The players now have to vote to recertify the union and the NFLPA must still collectively bargain over retired players, health and safety and substance abuse issues.

But at least America can rest knowing it has football.