In a 31-0 vote, the NFL’s owners have approved the terms of a settlement and ratified a proposal to end the NFL lockout on Day 132.
Only Al Davis of the Raiders abstained.
The decision, though, didn’t come without drama. Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reportedly had an hour-long phone conversation that delayed voting late in the day.
Now we await a vote from the players (expected during a conference call at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight) to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.
The optimistic view of the delays prior to voting is that the owners wanted to ensure that the players are on board prior to passing the resolution. NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported that the conversation between Goodell and Smith went well.
The problem, still, is that the owners could require the players to complete the re-certification process and become a union again before the lockout officially ends. (The players have requested that the lockout is lifted in the meantime, according to Judy Battista of the New York Times.)
Some players have suggested that the re-certification process could take up to two weeks to complete, but that notion seems ridiculous in 2011. The players probably want to take their time to re-certify in an attempt to make the original decertification decision look legitimate and protect that option for future labor battles, but is that worth potentially losing a week of the preseason and approximately $200 million in revenue?
Regardless, the players must first approve the settlement themselves, and if that doesn’t happen tonight, there’s a good chance the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame Game will be cancelled and the stalemate will become stronger.
It’s do or die now.
UPDATE: Goodell says the league plans to open team facilities on Saturday and start the new league year/free agency on Wednesday, but only if the players approve the new CBA and re-certify in time.
UPDATE 2: The league has officially cancelled the Aug. 7 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.