Players and owners are in the final lap of settlement talks, putting the agreed upon items into legalese and negotiating a few remaining points in the final deal. Barring a huge shock, an agreement should be done this week, in time for both sides to ratify a deal on Thursday, July 21.
Maybe. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports says that players won't vote on the deal until Friday, and that there is still the chance the start of training camps could be delayed. The St. Louis Rams were once upon time schedule to open camp on July 22, but that would be impossible if the deal isn't ratified until that day; it'd be a stretch if the deal was approved on Thursday. Thus begging the question: does the Hall of Fame Game happen on August 7?
As you know, a report from the Chicago Sun-Times said on Friday that the game was nixed. The NFL quickly scrambled to counter that story noting that the game was still on schedule. But there's a certain subtlety to the NFL's message - isn't there always - that would appear to indicate that the game is still on the schedule merely as a technicality. Hall of Fame VP Joe Horrigan revealed a little more about his conversation with the NFL on the EYES Radio Network's Weisman Trophy show. Here's Horrigan (from a press release I received yesterday):
The official word from the NFL which we sought out after that Chicago report came out is that literally the lockout has not ended there's not agreement, no signed agreement yet, and as such there has been no cancellation of any games. So we're proceeding with that information that didn't change anything for us.
The NFL isn't going to rush to announce the HOF Game getting cancelled, but if training camps are delayed, it's going to be a stretch given all that has to happen, especially since the new deal will feature restrictions on two-a-day practices in training camp, further reducing the prep time for the Rams and Bears.
For now, assume the HOF Game is a go, but don't be surprised when the NFL announces it as another lockout casualty.