CANTON, Ohio — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith each grabbed a side of the massive 300-page collective bargaining agreement between the players and league owners and exchanged a relieved handshake while posing for the cameras.
And just like that, 4 1/2 months of acrimony, anger and posturing from both sides during the protracted NFL lockout was over.
Smith and Goodell signed the new CBA on a makeshift stage on the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Friday morning, a largely ceremonial gesture after the players agreed to ratify the 10-year agreement Thursday night.
Still, there was a sense of relief from both Smith and Goodell, who shook hands three times during the brief signing and even hugged after spending nearly half a year in tense negotiations haggling over a new way to distribute the NFL's massive revenue stream.
"We're all relieved because football is back," Goodell said. "That's what our fans want, and that's what we all want and we're thrilled that we got it done."
One fan shouted "thank you" to Smith as he took his seat, with Smith answering "more than welcome."
Following the signing both men glad-handed their way to the NFL Network's set inside the Hall of Fame Gallery. With the busts of Hall inductees serving as a backdrop, Smith and Goodell detailed the sometimes difficult journey to the new deal.
Neither pointed to a breakthrough moment in the lengthy talks, instead crediting leadership on both sides for being able to find common ground so the 2011 season could be saved.
Goodell said a small group of player representatives and owners did the leg work of putting aside the considerable differences between the two groups and focusing on the future.
"There was a tremendous amount of respect and an attempt to find solutions," Goodell said. "Once we understood each other and we understood that that was what we were there for, we got it done."
Both Goodell and Smith were vague on the possibility of HGH-testing. Smith called it "something to be strived for," with Goodell adding "we're going to get it done but we want to get it done right."
Testing could begin by the start of the regular season, though the specifics are still being worked on, as are several other details. It didn't stop Smith from celebrating a "joyous" day. The process has turned him into a celebrity of sorts, and he spent several minutes posing for pictures with fans before being whisked away in a van.
BOSS SIGNS WITH RAIDERS: Free agent tight end Kevin Boss signed a $16 million, four-year contract with the Raiders on Friday.
The deal includes $8 million in guarantees.
Oakland had been looking for a tight end ever since Pro Bowler Zach Miller spurned the team that drafted him and instead signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday.
Boss, who caught 119 passes with 18 touchdowns in four seasons with the New York Giants, gives the Raiders a 6-foot-6, 235-pound downfield target. He also won a Super Bowl ring with New York in his rookie season.
"He's smooth," said quarterback Jason Campbell, who played against Boss' Giants teams while Campbell was with the Washington Redskins. "He has a lot of experience. We understand he knows what it takes to get to the next level, and what it's going to take for us to get to the next level this year."
NO ONE'S TOLD TEBOW HE'S THE STARTER: Tim Tebow says no one from the Denver Broncos has told him he's the starting quarterback.
Instead, he said Friday he's been told to compete for the job. He says he wants to earn anything he gets.
Incumbent starter Kyle Orton has been taking all the first-team snaps in camp. Tebow had been taking most of the second-team snaps behind Orton, but the former Florida star rotated with Brady Quinn on Thursday and Friday.
Saturday figures to be a showcase for all three quarterbacks, as the Broncos will scrimmage for the first time at Invesco Field at Mile High.
LEWIS RE-SIGNS: Marcedes Lewis went through last season, the NFL lockout and the first week of training camp without a long-term contract.
He always figured it would get done. It just took longer than expected.
Lewis signed a five-year contract worth about $35 million with the Jaguars on Friday, locking up the Pro Bowl tight end for what both sides believes will be the prime of his career. Lewis will get nearly $17 million guaranteed.
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