NFL Lockout Finally Ends

July 26, 2011

American Football’s top league, the National Football League (NFL), has seen its four-and-a-half month lockout, the first in the sport since 1987, come to an end on after the players’ union unanimously agreed to a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with team owners.

Player representatives from all 32 NFL teams voted to approve a new contract over how to split US$9 billion in annual revenues.

The team owners last week gave their support to the new CBA, and on Monday the NFL Players’ Association backed the agreement, which does not contain an opt-out clause.

The new CBA has secured team owners 53% of revenues – higher than the 50-50 split with players under the previous deal, as well as better benefits for players and faster free agency for some.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: “It’s been a long time coming. Football is back and that’s the great news for everybody. I want to thank all of the players for their leadership and for securing the long-term future of the game. Having a 10-year agreement is extraordinarily great for our game, but most importantly our fans. I think this agreement is going to make our game better.”

The union’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith added: “I know it has been a very long process since the day we stood here that night in March, but our guys stood together when nobody thought we would and football is back because of it. I believe it’s important that we talk about the future of football as a partnership.”

NFL Players’ Association president Kevin Mawae added: “We want to thank the fans who stuck with us. This has been a long road for everyone involved. This settlement is an essential component to what will be a long-term agreement benefiting players, owners and fans.”

Players are expected to return to training shortly and franchises are expected to begin signing free agents and rookies.

The season will now kick-off as scheduled on September 8 when the New Orleans Saints face the Green Bay Packers.