Our long national football nightmare is, for all intents and purposes, over: NFL players can start reporting to their teams’ training camps on Wednesday (July 27).
The league’s owners and player representatives from each team announced the end of the lockout at a news conference Monday that included the above image of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Indianapolis Colts player rep Jeff Saturday — both of whom were key players in the talks — hugging one another.
The warm fuzzies from Monday will soon be replaced by frenzied coverage of free-agent signings, trades and other transactions as the NFL compresses what’s usually a several-month process into a couple of weeks. Dedicated fantasy-league players will presumably be bleary-eyed from all the roster moves by the end of next week.
All that’s well and good, but when will fans actually be able to watch the NFL on TV again? Pretty soon.
The 132-day lockout forced the cancellation of just one preseason game, the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. As of Monday night, the NFL’s official site hadn’t republished a preseason schedule, but the league’s TV partners are still sticking to the schedule set before the lockout.
The first preseason games are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11. ESPN will broadcast the Seattle Seahawks-San Diego Chargers contest, and local stations may air some of the other four games played that night (check your local listings).
The start of the NFL’s regular season won’t be affected: The opening-night game between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers is still set for Thursday, Sept. 8 on NBC.