The past 24 hours have been exhausting. Yesterday afternoon, there was boundless optimism from all side regarding the labor negotiations. Representatives from all 32 NFL teams met for most of the day and in the early evening commissioner Roger Goodell announced that a new collective bargaining agreement had been agreed upon. All but one team, the Oakland Raiders, voted to ratify the proposal.
The ball was then lobbed into the player's court, which immediately created a firestorm of chaos, anger and confusion. As they are so wont to do, individual players, before even having all the details in front of them, took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. It's easy to imagine a day in the near future when athletes won't be allowed to air their grievances to the general public regarding a $9-billion deal, but that's neither here nor there.
We sit now in limbo, waiting to hear from the NFLPA. It's expected they will vote on the proposed deal today, a deal that Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey believes is fair for both sides.
"First and foremost I think a lot of credit should go to DeMaurice Smith and the executive committee of the players for all of their hard work," McCaskey said. "Once people got into a spirit of compromise on what was good for the game, then everybody wins.
"It was a long day because there was a lot of information to convey. It's a very detailed and comprehensive agreement, so there was a lot to go over so that we could make an informed decision on the vote. I thought the information was presented very effectively. I thought the questions that people asked were very good and right on target. In the end, there was a resounding vote for what's good for the game."
Ted Phillips, Bears president and CEO, feels the deal on the table will be good for the league for years to come.
"Even in difficult circumstances, I think both sides have worked together to come to a long-term agreement, and the goal of having an agreement that works for the clubs, the fans and the players has been reached," Phillips said. "I think both sides gave a little bit. It was a tough negotiation but I think one that will serve all sides really well in the long term.
"We believe it turned into a very fair agreement for everyone. We're very hopeful that the players will ratify the deal in short order."
Goodell also officially announced that the first preseason matchup between the Bears and St. Louis Rams in the Hall of Fame Game has been cancelled.
"It was cancelled because of the delay in opening camp," Phillips said. "We were supposed to open camp on July 23. Obviously that's not going to be the case any longer, so it made it difficult to prepare for that game. Because we have Richard Dent being enshrined, it's disappointing from that standpoint but probably the most fair given the circumstances of the offseason that every team starts training camp on the same day."
If the players ratify the deal today, expect the Bears to start training camp as early as Tuesday, July 25.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.