CANTON, OHIO - The NFL officially has labor peace for the next 10 years.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players' union chief DeMaurice Smith signed the collective bargaining agreement Friday morning on the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The CBA was ratified by the union on Thursday afternoon, officially starting the new league year. Goodell and Smith then put the finishing touches on the deal Friday, exchanging a handshake after putting pen to paper.
It was a long, arduous process that began in March when the union decertified and high-profile players filed a lawsuit against the NFL, which quickly followed by instituting a lockout.
Legal challenges ensued and months of bickering finally led to an agreement in late July.
The lockout marked the league's first work stoppage since 1987. The only real casualty was the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game, which was scheduled to be played this Sunday where the agreement was signed -- in Canton, Ohio.
Included in the new deal, and revealed only recently, is blood testing for human growth hormone, a first for an American pro sports league.
Other highlights of the comprehensive package are a rookie wage scale, which has meant virtually no issues with contracts for the 2011 draft class; changes to promote player health and safety issues, including the limiting of on-field practice time and contact as well as the increase in the number of off-days for players; and no change to the 16-game regular season schedule until at least 2013.
Teams are also committed to spending 99 percent of the salary cap in 2011-12 and at least 95 percent for the remainder of the 10-year agreement.
There was also a provision for changes to retirement benefits, including additional funding of between $900 million and $1 billion -- including $620 million for a new "Legacy Fund" devoted to increasing pensions for pre-1993 players.