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Patriots

Jeff Saturday: Kraft Helped Us Save Football

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NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith looks on at left as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, second from right, is hugged by Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colt during a news conference at the NFL Players Association in Washington, Monday, July 25, 2011, after the NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously Monday to approve the terms of a deal with owners to the end the lockout.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith looks on at left as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, second from right, is hugged by Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colt during a news conference at the NFL Players Association in Washington, Monday, July 25, 2011, after the NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously Monday to approve the terms of a deal with owners to the end the lockout.

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Player representatives for all 32 teams voted unanimously to approve the new collective bargaining agreement. NFL football Commissioner Roger Goodell and Executive Director of the National Football League Players’ Association DeMaurice Smith held a press conference in Washington D.C. to announce the end of the lockout.

Carolina owner and NFL labor co-chairman Jerry Richardson, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae, Colts center and NFLPA rep Jeff Saturday and many others also took to the microphone to say a few words.

Kraft approached the mic and had this to say of the lockout and the work it took to get the deal done.

“First of all I’d like, on behalf of both sides, to apologize to the fans that for the last 5-6 months we’ve been talking about the business of football and not what goes on, on the field and building the team in each market. The end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that i think is going to allow this sports to flourish over the next decade. And, we’ve done that in a way that unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive. We’ve improved player safety and we’ve remembered the players that have played in the past.”

“I want to give a special complement to Commissioner Goodell and D. Smith because the commissioner has to deal with 32 tough and demanding owners and he’s been able to keep that balance. DeMaurice Smith has come in and he’s managing 1,900, a butch of different professionals, it’s a new CBA with tricky language and he was able to keep all those things going and come up with an agreement that he and Roger did together with their 2 teams.”

“Lastly, what kept me at the table the last 4 and a half months was seeing the player representatives who represented the leagues players. They just didn’t look at the short term interests of their own playing careers, but they looked long term, especially Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth. I was so impressed with them that they acted as principals at the table looking out for what was good for the game. So I believe you’re going to see a very great NFL over the next decade and I hope that we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was.”

Jeff Saturday took to the mic and thanked fans, Goodell, D. Smith and to the wives who stood in support of their husbands as they worked to get this deal done. He sent out a special thank-you to Myra Kraft, who passed away recently, and went on to compliment Robert Kraft for his involvement in these meeting over the past few months.

“A special thanks to Myra Kraft who even in her weakest moment allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out and without him this deal does not get done. I don’t want to be climatic in any way, but he is a man who helped us save football. We’re so gracious for that, we’re gracious for his family and for the opportunity he presented to get this deal done.”

Now that this deal is done what’s next? Click here to see what the steps will be over the next few days.

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