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Lockout Isn't Over Yet



    The NFL lockout is still game on.

    Owners overwhelmingly voted Thursday in favor of a tentative agreement that would bring an end the lockout, but players have not voted on it.

    While things looked promising after the owners' vote, the possibility that the NFL would be back on by the end of the day looked increasingly unlikely as the night went on.

    The owners approved the deal 31-0 and sounded optimistic about its chances.

    "For now, we think the reality is that we have an agreement," NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said.

    It's still players vs. owners

    But the players seemed to balk at the proposal. During a conference call Thursday night, the player reps decided not to vote on the matter.

    "Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; other issues, such as workers' compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved," NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith wrote in an email to player reps. "There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time."

    In the email, he also said that owners had approved a supplemental revenue-sharing proposal that players have not discussed.

    And Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweeted that a players source said, "There are numerous items in the proposal that players never agreed to."

    "Here is what the 'Real' fans need 2 know: The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA 'they' voted on that were NEVER agreed 2!" New Orleans Saints player Heath Evans tweeted.

    Complicating the matter, player representatives said late Thursday night that they still hadn't seen the full proposal.

    "How can we hold a vote on something that we haven't seen the finished product of?" Buffalo Bills player rep George Wilson told The Associated Press. "Ultimately, the guys felt like this thing is being force-fed to us; that it's being shoved down our throats."

    But Wilson also said he thinks the issues can be worked through.

    NFL attorneys said the owners should not lift the lockout until the players recertify as a union. Without a union in place, the league would be open to anti-trust lawsuits.

    "We are prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement and recertifying as a union," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

    But an NFLPA attorney told player representatives in an email that requiring the players to recertify as a union may violate federal labor laws, Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal tweeted.

    Fans ready for lockout to end

    Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys fans just want the NFL owners and players to come to an agreement.

    "America loves football, so I'm pretty sure that we were going to get it done. It was just a matter of time," Don Timmons said. "I want to see Cam Newton play."

    Fans want to see a deal done so people can start talking about on-the-field issues.

    "You know Texas loves football," Jeremy Hayes said. "So without football, it's getting a little wild. It's not exciting around here, so I'm waiting for the Cowboys to come back and do something great."

    Details of the proposal

    The NFL owners approved the 10-year deal 31-0, with Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders abstaining.

    "Certainly, they felt that the process gave everybody the best chance to do what we, the players and the league wanted to do, and that's have a better game for the fans," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

    The basic framework for the league's new economic model -- including how to split more than $9 billion in annual revenues -- was set up during negotiations last week.

    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.

    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 the business of 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.

    The Dallas Cowboys loaded tractor-trailers at the players entrance of Valley Ranch on Thursday, ready to roll to training camp in San Antonio.

    All of the Cowboys have had about a month and a half of player-organized workouts led by quarterback Tony Romo this summer. But that's not even close to working with their coaches.

    "The real business is going to come in August when they go to training camp," said Rick Gosselin, a Dallas Morning News columnist. "Again, it looks good, but it's not going to make the Cowboys a playoff contender because they got together a couple of sessions with Tony Romo."

    No Hall of Fame game

    At a press conference announcing the owners ratification of the proposal, Goodell said this year's Hall of Fame game between St. Louis and Chicago would be canceled.

    He said the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies would go on as planned, but "time is just too short" for the Rams and the Bears prepare and play the Aug. 7 game as scheduled.

    The owners locked out players on March 12. During that time, teams were not allowed to communicate with current NFL players; players -- including those drafted in April -- could not be signed; and teams did not pay for players' health insurance.

    The four-month lockout is the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

    NBC DFW's Omar Villafranca, Eric Kreindler and Elvira Sakmari and The Associated Press' Paul Newberry contributed to this report.