Here's a primer on what's happened and what's left before we have a fully completed collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and players.
The final settlement document of 50 pages was completed by the two sides at 3 a.m., EST. Then, the players side put together a PowerPoint to present to the 32 player reps, who were scheduled for a late morning conference call.
That review last 2 1/2 hours (longer than many expected), and it ended with a roll call and a unanimous vote to recommend a settlement to the plaintiffs of the Brady et al vs. NFL case, several of whom were in attendance.
Then, shortly thereafter, there was a joint press conference of the owners and players, at which both sides proclaimed, in assorted ways, that football was back.
Representatives from both sides then scurried away, with many of the players leaving with actual union cards that they will hand out to teammates when they report to training camps. Re-certification was a sticking point, because the owners side believed it could be handled very quickly, via email. But, the NFLPA actually needed about four months to get all the signed cards to decertify, when executive director DeMaurice Smith traveled around the country to visit all 32 clubs.
Re-certification is essential, because there are collectively bargained issues that cannot be discussed until the NFLPA becomes an official union again. Among the keys: the substance abuse policy and the personal conduct policy.
These issues were discussed back in March, before decertification, but they -- technically and legally -- could not have been discussed since then.
So how can players return to the field?
It's an act of good faith, on both sides, because many CBA terms (ie. revenue splits) have been agreed to. On the one hand, the players' trade association has to take institutional steps to become the NFL Players Association again.
"There's still a benefits package that has to be ratified," said Bears kicker Robbie Gould, the team's player representative. "If the owners and players don't agree to the benefits packages, which hopefully is just a formality, then the deal doesn't get ratified and we're back to square."
But, the date they are working toward to have a completely finalized deal is Aug. 4. Then, there will be one final vote of the player reps to approve the entire 10-year agreement.