Scott Hanson and Albert Breer of the NFL Network are reporting that the NFL owners have voted to ratify the settlement terms of the litigation that would be the first step in bringing forth a new agreement. The vote took place just before 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, and the NFL Network's Rich Eisen reports that the vote was 31-0, with the Oakland Raiders abstaining.
It was perhaps the most overwhelming initiative from the owners' side when it came to a settlement agreement or new collective bargaining agreement in the history of the league, and it sets the table for the players to vote on the global settlement put in front of them to put to bed the Brady v. NFL, collusion and lockout insurance lawsuits. The NFLPA will have a conference call at 8 p.m. ET to discuss the offer on the table, how to re-certify as a union and how best to go forward.
"The clubs approved an agreement that was negotiated with the players this afternoon," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday at a news conference. "In addition to approving that agreement, we also approved a supplemental revenue sharing system for the next 10 years. With this ratification, and the ratification of the NFLPA board, we will be prepared to open the training facilities beginning this Saturday. We will then be prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday, subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement and re-certifying as a union."
Goodell also said that the 2011 Hall of Fame game, which was to feature the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams on Aug. 7, has been canceled due to complications brought about by time constraints. The first actual preseason games would begin Aug. 11.
"There's certainly a major effort made to get everybody knowledgeable and familiar with the CBA," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Breer after the owners meetings adjourned. "Obviously, there was a tremendous amount of give and take to get this agreement with the players. And you have questions — the owners had a lot of questions about the give part, for sure, in the negotiations. That's what you expect. Certainly, they felt that the process gave everybody the best chance to do what the players and the league wanted to do, and that's to have a better game for the fans."
Through the day, union leader DeMaurice Smith and Goodell have been talking to resolve all outstanding issues, but it's important to note that the owners have essentially voted on their own proposal -- now, it's up to the NFLPA to meet them halfway. Smith sent an e-mail to the players right before that call, which you can read here.
It's not the final step, but it's a big one. Stay tuned for more news through the evening as we know it.