The most-watched event on American television no longer is in jeopardy.
The National Football League and the players finally forged a deal after nearly five months of labor wrangling, both sides announced in a televised news conference Monday. So the Super Bowl — which this year was seen by 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched prime-time telecast in U.S. history — will be played Feb. 5 and televised by NBC, for which Sunday Night Football is a rare ratings winner.
"It's been a long time coming, and football's back, and that's great news for everybody," league Commissioner Roger Goodell said in front of union headquarters in Washington, where both players and owners had gathered.
The 32 representatives of the NFL Players Association voted unanimously to accept the agreement, said DeMaurice Smith, the association's executive director. Owners approved the 10-year pact last week.
"I know it has been a very long process since the day that we stood here that night in March. But our guys stood together when nobody thought we would, and football is back because of it," Smith said. He added: "I believe it's important that we talk about the future of football as a partnership."
While the owners' hope to expand to a 18-game schedule won't happen, both sides managed to agree on how to share some $9.3 billion in annual revenue the league rakes in. And Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN, not to mention the NFL Network, won't have to scramble for substitute programming.