New York football fans, break out your face paint and jerseys.
After more than four months of bruising negotiations, lawsuits and acrimonious charges and counter-charges, there is labor peace in the NFL, and the season will go on without delay.
Four days after owners overwhelmingly approved a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, the players signed off on the deal Monday.
With the good news, fans are already hungry for the opening kickoff on Sept. 8.
“I’m having a drink to celebrate,” said Kevin Brown, a 32-year-old Giants fan from Park Slope. “Sundays are the highlight of a man’s life at the end of a busy week. What else do we have to live for but football on Sundays?”
A shortened or canceled season would also have been deadly for New York bars.
“Football’s our big seller, so I’m very, very glad,” said Steve Harewood, 45, a bartender at 200 Fifth in Park Slope. “I was actually doing backflips earlier.”
Over the weekend, negotiations hit another bump when players wanted a clause that would allow either side to vacate the deal. But in the end, the players agreed to a straight 10-year contact sans the opt-out clause.
“Having a 10-year agreement is extra great for our game — especially our fans. I think this agreement is going to make the game better,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
It’s going to be a crazy week as teams rush to sign free agents (there are 400 looking to sign deals) and open training camps. The Giants will report Thursday and begin practice Friday, while the Jets will report Saturday and begin practice Sunday.
Both teams are training at their New Jersey facilities after canceling plans to practice at their usual upstate New York locations.
Not surprisingly, Rex Ryan, the outspoken Jets coach, is already talking tough about the new season.
“I’m really excited to get back at this and the Jets are going to be ready, and the great thing is we get to prove it,” Ryan said. “Believe me, we are ready to do it.”
(with Gabrielle Bruney)