Now that the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that could bring about 10 years of labor peace, here's a timeline of how the league and players association arrived at this point.
May 20, 2008: National Football League owners vote unanimously to opt out of the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The owners' decision to opt out changed the expiration of the agreement from the last day of the 2012 league year to March 3, 2011.
August 20, 2008: NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw dies at age 63 from pancreatic cancer. A Hall of Fame guard for the Oakland Raiders, Upshaw had been actively involved in the NFLPA since the 1970s, becoming head of the union in 1983.
March 16, 2009: The NFLPA elects Washington, D.C.-based attorney DeMaurice Smith to a three-year term to succeed the late Gene Upshaw as the union's executive director.
February 18, 2011:The NFL and NFL Players Association begin federal mediation under the guidance of George S. Cohen at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.
March 1, 2011: U.S. District Judge David Doty overrules Special Master Stephen Burbank, finding that the television contracts the owners negotiated violated the collective bargaining agreement by creating a $4 billion "lockout insurance" fund. The ruling grants considerable leverage to the players in labor talks.
March 3, 2011: After agreeing to a 24-hour extension, the NFL and NFLPA agree to a seven-day extension of the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. Mediation is expected to continue at the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services in Washington, D.C.
March 11, 2011: NFLPA rejects the owners' final proposal and decertifies as a union, which allows them to file an antitrust lawsuit immediately.
March 12, 2011: NFL Lockout officially begins, setting off what will become the longest work stoppage in league history.
April 6, 2011: U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson hears arguments in the Brady v NFL antitrust case. Judge Nelson says she will announce her decision in a couple weeks.
April 11, 2011: Judge Nelson forces the two sides to enter mediation, and appoints U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan to oversee the sessions in his chambers in Minneapolis.
April 20, 2011: Mediation suspended until May 16.
April 25, 2011: Judge Susan Nelson rules in favor of the players, lifting the lockout.
April 27, 2011: Judge Nelson denies the owners' request for a stay. Owners file an appeal with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
April 29, 2011: Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals votes 2-1 to grant a temporary stay of Judge Nelson's injunction that lifted the lockout.
May 16, 2011: Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals votes 2-1 to grant a permanent stay of Judge Nelson's injunction that lifted the lockout. Both sides to appear in court in St. Louis on June 3.
May 17, 2011: Mediation stalls in the wake of the Eighth Circuit Court granting a permanent stay of the lockout.
May 24, 2011: The NFL cancels its annual Rookie Symposium, the first NFL-sponsored event to become of the lockout.
Early June: Several owners on the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and several NFLPA executive members met secretly outside of Chicago.
June 3, 2011: NFLPA and NFL appear before Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has already granted the NFL's request for a temporary and permanent stay of the lockout.
June, 2011: "Secret" talks between NFL players and owners, and mediated by Judge Boylan, continue on Long Island, New York, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, in Hull, Massachusetts, and in Minnesota. Significant progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement is made during this month.
July 5, 2011: Labor talks move to New York City. Legal and financial teams meet on Tuesday and Wednesday at the offices of Proskauer Rose, a sports law giant where NFL outside counsel Bob Batterman is a partner. Owners and players resume face-to-face negotiations on July 7 and 8.
July 8, 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rules, by a 2-1 vote, upholds the NFL lockout. Instead of granting leverage to the NFL, the ruling allowed for the players to ask Judge Nelson if the lockout applied to rookies and players without contracts. That issue may have created a sense of urgency on the league's side to get a deal done.
July 14, 2011: Significant progress is made in New York City, setting up a scenario for a potential agreement the following week when Judge Boylan, on vacation in Ireland, is scheduled to return to the negotiations.
July 21, 2011: Owners vote 31-0 to approve collective bargaining agreement in Atlanta, turning matter over the players. Though the Oakland Raiders abstained. In 2006, two owners -- Mike Brown (Cincinnati) and Ralph Wilson (Buffalo) -- voted against ratifying the agreement.
July 25, 2011: NFL and NFLPA agree to terms on collective bargaining agreement.