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End of NFL Lockout Closer than Ever, Owners Ratify Settlement

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According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL voters have voted to ratify the new CBA in a 31-0 vote (with the Oakland Raiders abstaining):

In a major step toward ending the NFL lockout, the league's owners have voted to ratify a proposal settling the players' antitrust litigation.

This was the key vote that had been anticipated at this NFL owners' meeting for weeks, but it doesn't end the lockout in and of itself. The players still need to accept the settlement, and to vote to re-certify their union. Then the owners and players would agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and get back to work.

While the league's decision to ratify the CBA is clearly a major step towards the end of the lockout, we're only halfway there. As the PFT report explains, two tasks remain. First, the players must vote to ratify the CBA. Second, the players must re-certify.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported earlier that players may report to team facilities as soon as Friday in order to sign re-certification documents. Currently, the players are scheduled to hold a conference call with DeMaurice Smith at 8:00 PM ET.

In other lockout news, the NFL officially cancelled the annual Hall of Fame game, which was scheduled for August 7th.

While the game is an unfortunate casualty, the fact that we seem to finally be on the verge of closing this thing out is really encouraging.