Posted by Ryan Wilson
There isn't currently a 2011 NFL season, but July has been a busy month nonetheless. Most of it has been speculation driven -- the lockout will end on this date, free agency will start on that date -- but there's also legitimate hope that a new collective bargaining agreement will be ratified by July 21, no games will be missed, and there will be actual football this fall.
But it's not all rainbows and unicorns. We wrote earlier that the Cowboys might have to cancel their training camp in San Antonio because it's barely a week after the rumored July 21 CBA ratification date.
And while the regular season schedule is safe, as well as the final four weeks of the preseason (and the $800 million in revenues that go with it), the August 7 Hall of Fame game, typically the NFL's first preseason game played during Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio, could be in jeopardy.
"We have not identified a date by which we have to have an agreement to save the Hall of Fame Game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Chicago Tribune. "Time is admittedly running short, however."
The Tribune notes that the July 21 ratification date would make it virtually impossible for the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game, the Bears and Rams, to report to camp on July 22 and begin practicing on July 23.
There are also the "Transition Rules" to consider which, according to an ESPN report, spell out an actual timeline for roster transactions under the July 21 deal scenario, including the start of the new league year during which free agents would become eligible for the open market on July 28.
"This would create a wild period in which business would be done around the clock as teams settle rosters and go to camp at the same time," the Tribune's Brad Biggs and Vaughn McClure report. "Considering the Bears have only 54 players on their roster right now, a figure that includes draft picks, how quickly can Jerry Angelo and Cliff Stein find and sign 36 players?"
With all the deadlines in the 17 days between July 21 and August 7, it's hard to imagine that either team will be ready to play in Canton. The logistics are just too unwieldy.
Earlier this month, Hall of Fame president Steve Perry told ESPN that, depending on when the lockout ended, the Hall of Fame game could be postponed or played on another date.
"That's not our desire," he said. "It would not have the same impact as having it on Hall of Fame Weekend."
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