The 2011 NFL lockout is officially over. The NFLPA unanimously approved the CBA this afternoon at 2:00 P.M. Eastern, and after the vote the members of the owners labor committee, the NFLPA's representative committee, Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith held a joint press conference in Washington DC announcing the return of NFL football.
During the press conference, Patriots owner Robert Kraft did what no other owner had done during the lockout process: He apologized to the fans.
Not long after Kraft made his remarks, NFLPA rep and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday made it a point to thank Kraft for the work he did during the negotiation process. He stated, quite clearly, that without Robert Kraft at the table, the deal doesn't get done. Saturday also took the time to note the passing of Kraft's wife, Myra. Myra Kraft passed away four days ago.
Jeff Saturday: A special thanks to Myra Kraft, who even in her weakest moment, allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out. Without him, this deal does not get done. I don’t want to be climatic, but he is a man who helped us save football. We’re gracious for that, we’re gracious for his family, and the opportunity presented to get this deal done.
When the statements from Kraft, Saturday, Smith, and Goodell were completed, both Smith and Goodell stood together and took questions. It was a funny, awkward moment that, after 132 days, made both men chuckle. But, it was clearly a moment both had been looking forward to for some time.