BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. Taylor Smith is glad the nearly five-month NFL work stoppage is over in time for pre-season football games to start.
"I knew it was going to be over eventually. It was more like a tease. I wasn't really worried about it at all," said Smith, a New York Giants fan who works behind the service desk at Club Fit in Briarcliff.
Roy Colsey, a personal trainer at the gym agreed.
"Isn't it a coincidence that the lockout ended one week before spring training," he said. "I knew it would be over. What would life be without football on Sunday afternoons?"
The longest work stoppage in National Football League history ended July 25 when players voted to approve a final deal that was approved by league owners last week, allowing teams to open their facilities to players last Wednesday with training camps opening Friday and Saturday.
After the nearly five-month lockout of players by the owners, both sides reached a deal that allows teams to begin signing rookies and free agents immediately. The 32 players' representatives voted unanimously to approve the 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
The agreement came too late to save the annual Hall of Fame game between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams scheduled for Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. All scheduled preseason and regular season games will be played. The NFL regular season begins in September.
The NFL preseason begins the preseason with a slate of games on Aug. 11. The regular season opens with a match-up between New Orleans at Super Bowl champion Green Bay, Thursday Sept. 8.
Baltimore Ravens running back and New Rochelle High graduate Ray Rice hosted "Ray Rice Day" in New Rochelle in late June and was hopeful then that the season would open on time.
"I'm always working out and I'll be ready to go whenever things happen," Rice said four weeks ago. "Players want to play."
Minnesota Vikings lineman Jimmy Kennedy, who played for Roosevelt High School in Yonkers and at Penn State, was happy to have his extended summer vacation end.
"I've been working on every day, just want to get back out there," Kennedy said. "I've been working out and trying to stay under the radar.
The New York Giants opened training camp Friday at their practice facility near the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and the New York Jets opened on Saturday at the training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
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