Finally the NFL Lockout is Over by Lloyd Vance

Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith were both all smiles on Monday July 25th.  After 135 Days, the NFL Lockout is finally over and America’s Most Popular Game can leave the courtroom and return to the field

Today, NFL player representatives and the league’s owners signed a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) to end a lockout that had started in March shortly after the Packers’ Super Bowl victory and threatened to harm part of  — if not all of the — 2011 season. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looked relieved while saying, “Football’s back!”.  Goodell added “(The new 10-year deal) is extraordinarily great for our game.”  Of course, fans had heard Goodell say similar words after the owners agreed (31-0) on Friday, but everything wasn’t done until the players had their say.  Finally an 11 AM conference call where the new deal was agreed to by the league’s players really did bring back football to a starving public, who wouldn’t know what to do without “America’s Passion”.

Terms were not immediately specified, however NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith — still need to re-certify the organization, but that is topic for another day — also seemed to beaming just as much as Goodell.  Smith said of the new deal, which included a legacy fund for retiree, safety issues, and much more.  “We managed to talk about things that make football better and safer.”

According to the NFL, some of the highlights in the agreement included:

  • New rookie compensation system with a salary cap of $142.4 million per club in 2011 
  •  Additional retirement benefits
  • The limiting of practice times and full-contact practices.
  • Clubs receiving actual stadium investment and up to 1.5% of revenue each year.
  • Medical plan for life for players, under the owners’ plan.
  • Enhanced injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player’s salary for the year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury.

Colts’ center and player representative Jeff Saturday, who was at the forefront of the negotiations said, “The lockout has been a roller coaster for the fans.  With dialogue, things began to happen and …now instead of these meeting rooms, I get to be in football meeting rooms (at training camp).”

Now, the attention of everyone in NFL Universe from the players to team GM’s to the  media to Fantasy Football players will now return to the league’s quickened calendar.  Training Camps will shortly open (probably Wednesday) and Free Agency will also begin at a furious pace.

So now everyone can put away all the legal talk and focus on getting ready for September 8th in Green Bay, Wisconsin when the season offically kicks off with the Super Bowl Champion Packers taking on the New Orleans Saints.