(AP, ABC7) - As NFL player representatives like Charlie Batch enter their offices in D.C. for perhaps the last time for a while, fans waited just feet away, glad to see it finally came to an end.
"There is so much money out there... As a fan, all I wanted was football,” said Redskins fan John Grandy.
Grandy and millions of other NFL fans will get what they’ve been waiting for: On Monday, the longest work stoppage in NFL history ended. The NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps have voted unanimously to approve the terms of a deal to the end the 4½-month lockout.
Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be reviewed to satisfy players; the owners do not need to vote again.
"We are grateful,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Football is back"
Relief among workers who depend on NFL
Nakia Awkard landed a job as a manager of the Johnny Rockets at FedEx field in June, a job she had waited a long time for and one she really needs. She's been sweating out the lockout all summer.
“It was a concern for me because I'm a single parent, and I need as much as I can get coming in. So I definitely needed that,” she said. Awkard is one of hundreds of people in the area who don't play or coach football but depend on the NFL for their livelihood.
Evan Turner is the beverage manager for FedEx field. The thought of a quiet stadium this fall is something he feared.
“It very well could have, but they came to a deal and we're back in business,” Turner said.
Another happy face at FedEx field: Deandre Barnes, who just picked up his ID and is starting his first job working concessions at the stadium this season.
Deal Monday morning
The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that is for 10 years, without an opt-out clause, a person familiar with the deal told the AP. The agreement comes just in time for the Redskins to salvage a full training camp.
Owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league's old labor contract, which expired this March. That's when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.
The league's old labor deal expired in March, and the owners locked out the players, the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.
"We have every reason to believe it's going to be a good day," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to the AP.
If players sign off on the agreement Monday, NFL clubs would be able to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents on Tuesday.
Conversations with veteran free agents also could start Tuesday, and signings could begin Friday.
Under that tentative schedule, training camps would open for 10 of the 32 teams on Wednesday, 10 teams on Thursday, another 10 teams on Friday, and the last two teams on Sunday.
The major economic framework for the deal was worked out more than a week ago.
That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 - and at least that in 2012 and 2013 - plus about $22 million for benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
One thing owners originally sought and won't get, at least right away, is expanding the regular season from 16 games to 18. That won't change before 2013, and the players must agree to a switch.
"We heard the players loud and clear. They pushed back pretty hard on that issue," said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the league's competition committee.
The deal would make significant changes in offseason workout schedules, reducing team programs by five weeks and cutting organized team activities (OTAs) from 14 to 10 sessions. There will be limited on-field practice time and contact, and more days off for players.
Current players would be able to stay in the medical plan for life. They also will have an injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player's salary for the year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury.
A total of $50 million per year will go into a joint fund for medical research, health-care programs, and charities.
If the players approve the deal, the NFL would go back to football pretty quickly:
—On Saturday, teams can stage voluntary workouts at club facilities, and players may be waived. Contracts can be re-negotiated and clubs can sign draft picks and their own free agents. Teams can also negotiate with, but not sign, free agents from other clubs and undrafted rookies.
—On Sunday, teams can sign undrafted rookies.
—On Wednesday, the league year officially begins, so free agency opens in full, and all training camps will open with a 90-man roster limit; activities that day will be limited to physicals, meetings and conditioning. All clubs must be under the salary cap.
—Players can practice without pads next Thursday and Friday.