Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke at a joint news conference with owners and players in Washington, DC.
"I'd like to apologize to the fans, that for the last 5, 6 months we've been talking about the business of football, not what goes on on the field [with] the teams in each market. But the end result is we've been able to have an agreement that will allow this sport to flourish over the next decade. We've done that in a way that is unique among the major sports; every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive. We've improved player safety and we've remembered the players who've played in the past.
"I want to give a special compliment to Commissioner Goodell and De Smith, because the commissioner has to deal with 32 tough and demanding owners. He's been able to keep that balance, but DeMaurice Smith has come in and he's managing 1,900 players, a bunch of different professionals, it's a new CBA with tricky language, and he was able to keep all those things going and come up with an agreement that he and Roger did together with their two teams.
"Lastly, what kept me at the table the last four-and-a-half months was seeing the players who represented the player representatives, who represented the league's players. They didn't just look at the short-term interests of their own playing careers, but they looked long-term, especially [Colts center] Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth. I was so impressed with them, that they acted as principals at the table, looking out what was good for the game.
"I believe you're going to see a very great NFL over the next decade and I hope we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was. Thank you."