NFL players ratify CBA

Panthers quarterback and this year's No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton works out in his first day in pads...

Panthers quarterback and this year's No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton works out in his first day in pads at training in Spartanburg, S.C., Aug. 1, 2011. (MARY ANN CHASTAIN/Reuters)

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, Last Updated: 1:01 AM ET

The new 10-year NFL collective bargaining agreement was ratified by players on Thursday, putting the finishing touches on the settled labor dispute and ushering in a decade of anticipated peace within the country's most popular sport.

"Our office was notified at 4:54 pm ET that the players have ratified the new 10-year CBA," tweeted NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

Under the new CBA, players have consented to blood testing for human growth hormone, according to The New York Times. The NFL will be the first major American sports league to blood test for HGH, with a goal to start the program by Week 1 of the regular season, the Times said.

Players had already approved the CBA on July 25, but a vote was needed to ratify it. A deadline to begin the new league year had been set for 4 p.m. Thursday.

NFL owners opted out of the previous deal, leading to a lockout that lasted more than four months -- the league's first work stoppage since 1987.

"We are proud that we ratified" the CBA, players union head DeMaurice Smith tweeted. "Thanks to our players for their leadership. Thanks to our fans for your patience."

Smith's counterpart in the labor negotiations, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, tweeted that "The NFL will be better than ever."

Training camps finally opened late last week, but players who had signed new deals weren't able to practice until the CBA was ratified. Some teams moved their Thursday practices back to allow those players to participate.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said the NFL sent out a note saying it was "probably in the best interest of all of the teams to try to push practice back as much as they can in hopes of getting those players to practice."

"We wanted to practice at night down here at least once," said Garrett, "so it kind of fit together."

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said the delay between training camp opening and the CBA being ratified worked out well for some of the team's younger players because they had a better opportunity to get more reps in during practice.

"Now obviously that's going to change a bit," Caldwell said. "We're going to get some pretty seasoned veterans back out at certain positions, therefore [the young players'] numbers are going to be cut down drastically. But it will be a great infusion of enthusiasm because they're chomping at the bit to get out there."


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