NFL owners approve tentative deal to end lockout

(AP) - The country's most popular sport is inlimbo for at least another day.NFL owners overwhelmingly approved a tentative agreementThursday to end the lockout, provided

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. - (AP) - The country's most popular sport is inlimbo for at least another day.

NFL owners overwhelmingly approved a tentative agreementThursday to end the lockout, provided players re-establish theirunion and sign off on the deal. The players, however, didn't vote,saying they had not seen the full proposal.

Owners voted 31-0 - the Oakland Raiders abstained - and soonafterward, the league issued a press release announcing: "NFLclubs approved today the terms of a comprehensive settlement oflitigation and a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement withthe NFL Players Association."

Then NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith sent an email to team repssaying: "Issues that need to be collectively bargained remainopen; other issues, such as workers' compensation, economic issuesand end of deal terms, remain unresolved. There is no agreementbetween the NFL and the players at this time."

Players held a conference call Thursday night and decided not tovote.

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on the phone several timesThursday with Smith, including filling him in on the results of thevote before it was announced.

"Hopefully, we can all work quickly, expeditiously, to get thisagreement done," Goodell said at a news conference at anAtlanta-area hotel. "It is time to get back to football. That'swhat everybody here wants to do."

But several players took to Twitter, expressing opposition tothe proposal. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark wrote: "Theowners want u to believe that they have been extremely faireverywhere and this is their 'olive branch' to finalize it."

The four-month lockout is the NFL's first work stoppage since1987. And as a result, this season's exhibition opener was canceledThursday - the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game between Chicago and St.Louis in Canton, Ohio.

"The time was just too short," Goodell said. "Unfortunately,we're not going to be able to play the game this year."

Providing players eventually approve the agreement, teamfacilities would open Saturday, and the new league year would beginWednesday.

Goodell also announced that owners approved a supplementalrevenue-sharing system, something Smith noted in his email to teamreps. "Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions,"he wrote.

Even after all acceptable terms are established, a deal wouldlead to a new CBA only if NFLPA team reps recommend re-establishingthe group as a union, which must be approved by a majority vote ofthe 1,900 players.

In March, when talks broke down and the old CBA expired, theNFLPA said it was dissolving itself as a union and instead becominga trade association, a move that allowed the players to sue theleague under antitrust law. But only a union can sign off on a CBA.

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