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NFL owners agree to deal with players
National Football League owners approved a 10-year labor and revenue-sharing agreement with players, who were considering the terms Thursday evening.
Owners, meeting in Atlanta, agreed by a 31-0 vote to end the current lockout. Team facilities could be open by Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, if players approve the deal.
Player representatives were engaged in a conference call Thursday night in which they were discussing the proposal and the recertification of the NFL Players Association, which dissolved after the lockout began in March.
Representatives for the league's 1,900 players, who have several days to ratify the proposal, were reviewing possible sticking points.
New Orleans Saints player Heath Evans, referring to the collective-bargaining agreement, tweeted: "The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA 'they' voted on that were NEVER agreed 2!"
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said after the owners' vote that there was no joint agreement. SI.com said it obtained an e-mail Smith wrote to player representatives, indicating workers' compensation and other issues remain unresolved.
The proposed collective-bargaining agreement would last through the 2020 season.
"I do feel good" about the prospects of resolving the situation, Falcons player representative Coy Wire told CNN before Goodell announced the terms.
Carolina Panthers majority owner Jerry Richardson called the compromise "fair and balanced."
The proposed agreement includes a new rookie compensation system, a salary cap of $142.4 million per club in 2011 and additional retirement benefits, according to the NFL.
In a bid to reduce injuries, the pact limits practice times and full-contact practices. Clubs receive credit for actual stadium investment and up to 1.5% of revenue each year.
Current players can remain in the player medical plan for life, under the owners' plan. They also will have 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.
The first preseason game -- the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams -- has been canceled because of the delay in opening camps, Goodell said. It had been scheduled for August 7.
The regular season is set to open on September 8.
The owners call for the free-agent signing period to begin Wednesday.
The league's owners imposed the lockout on March 11, suspending the labor deal in place at the time in hopes of creating a new financial structure.
Players Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and seven others subsequently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league on behalf of other current and eligible NFL athletes. A judge in early April joined that action with another filed by retired players.
Since the lockout, the two sides have faced off in courts and around conference tables. The major issues have revolved around how to divide the billions of dollars of revenue reaped via the league each year, rules of free agency, a possible rookie wage scale, retirement benefits and a host of other matters.
The heart of the issue between the players and the owners was how to divide the league's $9 billion in revenue.
Under the old agreement, NFL owners took $1 billion off the top of that revenue stream. After that, the players got about 60%.
The owners said the old labor deal didn't take into account the rising costs related to building stadiums and promoting the game. The players argued that the league has not sufficiently opened up its books to prove this.