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NFL players approve labour deal, including 17-game season

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NFL players have approved a new labour agreement with the league that features a 17-game regular season, higher salaries, increased roster sizes and larger pensions for current and former players.

The deal, which runs through the 2030 season, was accepted by the 32 team owners last month. The NFL Players Association’s membership spent the last week voting on the 439-page document after its executive board narrowly rejected it by a 6-5 vote, and the player representatives voted 17-14 in favour, with one abstention.

Clearly, there was some strong player opposition to this collective bargaining agreement, though. Many stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt and Todd Gurley, spoke out against it. The total vote, among the nearly 2,500 union members who participated, was 1,019-959. Ratification required a simple majority — results were announced Sunday — and there could be lasting resentment among union members, given how close the vote was.

“Can’t believe we agreed to that lol,” Colts tight end Eric Ebron tweeted. “We can only play this game for so long and y’all didn’t want everything we could get out of it? … 2030 y’all do better.”

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey expressed displeasure about the turnout for voting.

“Around 500 players didn’t even vote on the new CBA …,” he tweeted. It’s good and bad to this deal. I could see why anyone would vote either way. I just think it’s amazing guys don’t even care.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, not surprisingly, praised the players’ acceptance of the new CBA.

“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football,” Goodell said in a statement. “We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement.”

Soon after the union announced the voting results, it began discussing with the league the planned opening of the 2020 NFL business season on Wednesday with free agency and trades. A delay is possible given league restrictions on travel as a safeguard against the new coronavirus.

A 17-game schedule won’t happen before the 2021 season. The mechanics for an uneven number of games — neutral sites or which teams get nine home games — will be worked out in the interim.

Extending the season was a nonissue with the players in 2011, when the current 10-year deal was finalized after a 4 1/2 month lockout.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith explained the ins and outs of negotiating the new deal in a lengthy tweet after the voting had concluded Saturday night.

“The current proposal contains increases across almost every category of wages, hours, working conditions and benefits for former and current players,” he said. “Like any contested negotiation … the proposal also reflects trades with the counterparty which have to be carefully weighed and assessed across the entirety of the deal. Please be confident that I hear — loudly and clearly — those of you who have passionately expressed their perspective that these gains are not enough when weighed against, for example, adding another game. That position reflects how some members have chosen to weigh what aspect of the deal is important to them.

“The fact is, however, that there are literally hundreds of issues in any collective bargaining agreement that affect thousands of circumstances and impact thousands of current and former players which we must consider carefully.”

The gains the players make in the new agreement in sharing “a bigger portion of the growing pie,” according to outgoing NFLPA President Eric Winston, swayed the vote.

Among those gains:

— An increase from the 47% of league revenues given to the players, with that percentage dependent on the length of the season.

— A reduction of the preseason, initially from four games to three. More time off during training camps.

— Upgraded pensions, with the addition of groups of previous players not included in past agreements.

— Two more roster spots per team, from 53 to 55; that’s 64 more jobs.

— Larger practice squads with fewer limitations on movement of those players.

— Narrowing the testing period for players for marijuana use, plus lowered discipline for using it; and a reduction in on-field fines.

Adding two playoff teams was not part of the bargaining process; the owners can do so without union approval. That is expected to occur this season, with only the top team in each conference getting a wild-card bye.

With labour peace for the rest of the decade, the NFL now will turn to negotiating new deals with its broadcast partners. Results of that, including digital media, should, as Winston mentioned, substantially grow the financial pie.

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Historic Saints kicker Tom Dempsey dies after fight with coronavirus – Yahoo Canada Sports

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey died Saturday due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 73.” data-reactid=”25″>New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey died Saturday due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 73.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For decades, Dempsey was known for making one of the most famous kicks in NFL history. With the Saints trailing the Detroit Lions by two points — and just two seconds remaining in the game — Dempsey lined up for a then-record 63-yard field-goal attempt.” data-reactid=”26″>For decades, Dempsey was known for making one of the most famous kicks in NFL history. With the Saints trailing the Detroit Lions by two points — and just two seconds remaining in the game — Dempsey lined up for a then-record 63-yard field-goal attempt.

Dempsey drilled the kick, setting a record that lasted decades. He was mobbed by his teammates and was eventually carried off the field.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey played 11 seasons in the NFL. While only two came with the Saints, New Orleans was the place Dempsey considered home.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal stood until 2013, when it was broken by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater and his 64-yard field goal. Five other kickers tied Dempsey’s record.” data-reactid=”30″>Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal stood until 2013, when it was broken by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater and his 64-yard field goal. Five other kickers tied Dempsey’s record.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In 2012, Dempsey revealed he was dealing with dementia. He had been living in a senior center when he contracted the coronavirus. Dempsey was diagnosed with the virus on Mar. 25, according to his daughter Ashley.” data-reactid=”31″>In 2012, Dempsey revealed he was dealing with dementia. He had been living in a senior center when he contracted the coronavirus. Dempsey was diagnosed with the virus on Mar. 25, according to his daughter Ashley.

While Dempsey’s symptoms were mild initially, his condition worsened. Dempsey was quarantined after contracting the virus, but was able to speak with his family every day over video chat.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”33″>More from Yahoo Sports:

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Ex-Saints K Dempsey dies from coronavirus – TSN

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NEW ORLEANS — Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey, who played in the NFL despite being born without toes on his kicking foot and made a record 63-yard field goal, died late Saturday while struggling with complications from the new coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 73 years old.

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate first reported Dempsey’s death. Ashley Dempsey said Sunday that her father, who has resided in an assisted living home for several years after being diagnosed with dementia, tested positive for the coronavirus a little more than a week ago.

The Orleans Parish coroner has yet to release an official cause of death.

Dempsey’s game-winning field goal against Detroit on Nov. 8, 1970, stood as an NFL record for 43 years until the Broncos’ Matt Prater broke it with a 64-yarder in Denver in 2013.

Dempsey spent 11 seasons in the NFL: His first two seasons were with New Orleans (1969-70), the next four with Philadelphia, then two with the Los Angeles Rams, one with the Houston Oilers and the final two with Buffalo. He retired after the 1979 season.

“Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humour.”

Dempsey was born in Milwaukee without four fingers on his right hand and without toes on his right foot. He kicked straight on with a flat-front shoe that drew protests from some who saw the specially made kicking shoe as an unfair advantage. Former Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm compared the shoe to “the head of a golf club.”

But Dempsey would counter that by saying he was merely doing the best he could to use the foot with which he was born, and for the most part, NFL officials, including then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle, agreed. Still, in 1977, the NFL passed what is widely known as the “The Dempsey Rule,” mandating that shoes worn by players with “an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe.”

Dempsey returned to New Orleans after retiring from the league. About seven years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia and later moved to an assisted living home, where he contracted the coronavirus in March during the pandemic that has hit the city — and nursing home — particularly hard. He is survived by wife Carlene, three children, a sister and grandchildren.

His kick has remained part of Saints lore and for a long time stood as one of the greatest moments in the history of a franchise that didn’t make the playoffs until its 21st season in 1987, and didn’t win a playoff game until the 2000 season.

At the time of the kick, the Superdome had yet to be build and the Saints played home games in the old Tulane Stadium, which was demolished in 1979.

The Lions led 17-16 after a short field goal with 11 seconds left.

With no timeouts, the Saints managed to move the ball to their own 45 with 2 seconds left after Billy Kilmer completed a pass to Al Dodd along the sideline.

According to a media reports, special teams coach Don Heinrich was heard barking, “Tell Stumpy to get ready to go in and kick a long one.”

At that time, goalposts were on the goal line, not behind the end zone. The spot of the kick was the Saints 37.

“I was more concerned about kicking it straight because I felt I could handle the distance,” Dempsey told the Times-Picayune. “I knew I was going to get a perfect snap from Jackie Burkett and a perfect hold from Joe Scarpati. It was all up to me. I hit it sweet.”

Kilmer told the Times-Picayune he remembers standing on the sideline seeing Lions players across the field laughing as Dempsey lined up for the momentous kick.

“They thought Tom had no chance,” Kilmer said.

But Dempsey ended up carried off the field on the shoulders of teammates and recalled spending all night at a Bourbon Street bar, celebrating.

“We were there, with all the guys, until the wee hours,” he said. “From what I can recall, I had a great time.”

Both the shoe with which Dempsey kicked the 63-yarder and the ball are in the Saints Hall of Fame in New Orleans, into which Dempsey was inducted in 1989. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has another of Dempsey’s specially made kicking shoes, but Dempsey wanted the mementos of the record-breaking kick to remain in New Orleans.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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Potential Compliance Buy-Out Situation a Windfall for the Toronto Maple Leafs – Editor In Leaf

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The Toronto Maple Leafs season has been postponed.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have not played since they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on March the 10th.

Who knows when the NHL will resume, or in what form it will resume in when it does.

Before the break, it was announced that the salary cap would be going up.

This would have greatly benefited the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The fact is, however, that with the season paused and potentially even canceled, the revenue based salary cap may not go up as expected.

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Salary Cap

Some people are speculating that if the NHL is forced to maintain or even lower their salary cap, that they might allow teams to have a compliance buy-out.

In essence, this would mean that each team gets a mulligan on their worst deal.

The Leafs do not have a single contract it would make sense to buy out.  They only had one bad contract on the roster – Cody Ceci’s $4.5 million – and it expires when the season ends.

All of the other contracts the Leafs have are either short term and reasonable, or they are long-term deals handed out to elite players.

This would be a major windfall for the Leafs because while they don’t have any contracts to get rig of, they are the NHL’s richest team.

Therefore if there is a situation where they can buy players out, the Leafs will get paid.

Here is an example of how the situation would work: The dirt poor Florida Panthers (who recently announced plans to slash payroll) would trade the Leafs Sergei Bobrovsky (just for example) and the Leafs would buy out the remaining six years on his $10 million dollar a year deal.

In order to get out of over $60 million dollars owed, the Panthers would pony up a first round pick or a top prospect.

Obviously the best case scenario for the Toronto Maple Leafs is if the cap goes up as reported, and they can then target someone like Alex Pietrangelo to try and put them over the top.

But if the cap does go down, and buy-outs are allowed, the Leafs would have the potential to cash in big time.

It is sort of ironic, since people in the media constantly say the Leafs are in “Cap Hell” despite the fact that with no bad long-term contracts, they are in perhaps the most enviable cap situation in the NHL.

Next: List of Available Free Agents This Summer

It’s not bad to have spent money, if you’ve spent it well, and the Leafs unquestionably  have.

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