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Updated: July 23rd, 2011 5:27pm
Players reportedly to recommend deal on Monday; Vikings camp saved?

Players reportedly to recommend deal on Monday; Vikings camp saved?

by Tom Pelissero
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The NFL lockout may be in its final hours. For real this time.

Two days after NFL owners approved a labor deal and then were criticized by players who refused to vote on it, ESPN reported late Saturday afternoon the sides had tentatively agreed to a plan that would allow the players' executive committee to vote on Monday to recommend accepting the collective-bargaining agreement and recertifying as a union.

A media conference also was expected on Monday, ESPN reported, with players tentatively allowed to return to team facilities on Tuesday and begin reporting to training camps as early as Wednesday. 

That's good news for the Minnesota Vikings, who continued to hold out hope on Friday for holding training camp in Mankato as scheduled, despite reports players wouldn't vote on a deal until at least Monday. The Vikings are scheduled to report to camp next Sunday, July 31, and begin practice on the morning of Aug. 1.

According to several reports, NFL Players' Association representatives continued to work into the weekend, with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith speaking directly to avoid any more miscommunications.

One of the sticking points in negotiation was the timeline on which players would vote to recertify as a union -- a key point for owners to preserve the NFL's antitrust exemption. That could be done as soon as Friday, ESPN reported, provided the 11-member NFLPA executive committee and the 32 player representatives recommend the collective-bargaining agreement and recertification.

That would pave the way for a wild week around the league, with undrafted free agency, veteran free agency, draft pick negotiations and the opening of camps all to begin within a matter of days. The Vikings have as much to do as any team in the NFL.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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