No, this is not a drill, and no, Brett Favre is not in charge of it. The lockout that lasted 136 days and became the longest work stoppage in NFL history is officially over. After an extended conference call between the NFLPA's executive council and all 32 player representatives, those player reps voted to ratify the new CBA in a sweeping, 32-0 vote that even the owners couldn't match.
We'll have much more about this later, but we wanted to get this news out as soon as possible. The lockout is over, and NFL football is back!
Right after the deal was announced, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith had this to say to the media:
"We wanted to let everyone know, who loves this game, that the board of player representatives and the executive committee of the National Football League Players Association unanimously recommended the approval of the deal. Obviously, we have a collective bargaining ratification progress that has yet to start, and we have a recertification effort that is going to be one of the most intense and significant unionization efforts — certainly one of the most public unionization efforts — in our history. Our men believe that they should make this decision as players. They're going to make the decision about certification as players, and they're going to make the decision about ratifying as players. The resulting CBA will address health and safety issues and benefits that you all know have been important for us.
"To our fans, I know that you love this game as much as I do. And I know that it has been a very long process since the day we stood here in March. But our guys stood together, when nobody thought we would. And football is back because of it."
After that statement, Smith went back into the NFLPA building in Washington to sign the new CBA in conjunction with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Once that was done, the two sides came down for a joint press conference. After Smith introduced Goodell and several team owners (Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers, John Mara of the New York Giants, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots), Goodell said a few words.
"It's been a long time coming, and football's back. That's the great news for everybody. I want to thank De and 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, and most importantly, for our fans. Everybody worked hard, everybody had a passion, and everybody believes in this game of football and what we can do to make our game better. We're grateful for all the work that both parties did to make sure that we came to this day today, and to make sure that we could stand here today and say, 'Football's back!'"