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N.F.L. Players Vote Yes on New 10-Year Labor Deal


In the end, all of those concerns were nullified by the slim majority of players who voted yes to the agreement. Roughly 60 percent of players are paid minimum salaries, and the current agreement will give these rank-and-file players a pay raise of about 20 percent in the coming year. They will also see increases to their pensions and other benefits.

To ease player concerns about the agreement increasing the season’s length, the owners agreed to eliminate one preseason game and to limit the number of padded practices that can be held during training camp. Players will get a bye week after the third and final preseason game. Two more teams will qualify for the postseason, increasing to seven per conference and eliminating a bye week for the second-seeded teams in the A.F.C. and the N.F.C., and will mean bonus checks for a greater number of players.

The new agreement curtails some of the commissioner’s powers to penalize players. In the new agreement, an arbitrator will be selected by the league and union to hear cases. Players cannot appeal the findings, only the severity of the discipline, to the commissioner.

The players will also receive a share of revenue from gambling operations in stadiums, including wagers on other sports and games. Betting on sports is legal in Nevada and New Jersey, where N.F.L. teams play. Legislation aimed at legalizing sports betting is under consideration in many other states.

All players’ pensions and annuities will also increase. The size of rosters and practice squads will also grow, and weekly salaries for practice squad players will grow, too. Workout rules in the off-season and training camp will be eased and the league’s drug policy will be revised to eliminate suspensions for players who test positive for marijuana, and those tests will be based on a threshold more than four times higher than under past policy.

Though retired players do not vote on labor agreements, they will see some improvements in their benefits. Players who retired before 1993 who have only three credited seasons will now be eligible to receive benefits, compared with the four years that were currently needed. Former players will also see a bump in the value of their pensions.

But the agreement also trimmed some disability benefits. Inactive players who collect up to $135,000 year, or $11,250 a month, in disability benefits will now have that amount reduced by the amount of money they receive from Social Security.



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