NFL players have approved a new labor agreement that includes a 17-game regular season. The deal, which runs through the 2030 season, was accepted by the 32 team owners last month, the AP reports. The NFL Players Association's membership spent the past week voting on the 439-page document after its executive board rejected it on a 6-5 vote and the player representatives voted 17-14 in favor, with one abstention. There was strong player opposition to this collective bargaining agreement, though. Many stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt and Todd Gurley, spoke out against it. The vote among the nearly 2,500 union members who participated was 1,019-959. Ratification required a simple majority, and the results were announced Sunday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed ratification in a statement, saying the deal "will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football." The 2020 NFL business season begins Wednesday with free agency and trades—though a delay is possible given league restrictions on travel as a safeguard against the new coronavirus. A 17-game schedule won't happen before the 2021 season; the mechanics for an uneven number of games—neutral sites or which teams get nine home games—will be worked out in the interim. The contract also reduces preseason games from four to three at first, makes more player groups eligible for pensions, raises the share of league revenue going to players, adds two roster spots per team and reduces penalties for marijuana use.
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