(AP) COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — NFL owners voted overwhelmingly in favor of a tentative 10-year agreement to end the lockout Thursday, pending player approval.
The vote was 31-0 with the Oakland Raiders abstaining from the ratification, which came after a full day of meetings at an Atlanta-area hotel.
Players still had to sign off on the deal — and they must re-establish their union, the NFL said. Players didn’t vote on a full pact Wednesday because there were issues that had not been resolved. They planned to have a conference call later Thursday.
“Hopefully, we can all work quickly, expeditiously, to get this agreement done,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It is time to get back to football. That’s what everybody here wants to do.”
The four-month lockout is the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987. One casualty was the first game on the preseason schedule — the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game between Chicago and St. Louis was canceled Thursday.
“The time was just too tight,” Goodell said. “Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to play the game this year.”
Team facilities will open Saturday, and the new league year will begin Wednesday, he said — assuming the players approve the agreement, too.
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.