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updated: 7/21/2011 11:29 PM

Why it's good Bears aren't playing in Hall game

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The good news Thursday was that the Hall of Fame Game, which was to feature the Bears and the St. Louis Rams, has been canceled.

It's a game that few care to watch, either in person or on TV, and even fewer care to play in. And so they don't. It's a game for backups and rookies with the primary goal of escaping without injury.

The bad news was that after the owners ratified their own proposal to end the lockout by a 31-0 vote, the players, on a conference call, declined to even vote on the 10-year proposal.

The celebratory nature of the owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell created a couple of hours of elation until the players refused to be rushed into rubber-stamping the agreement.

Many of the players were dissatisfied with what they considered a proposal that did not address all the issues that have been debated during a work stoppage that has reached 130 days and other provisions that were added unilaterally.

Another complaint was that players were upset that they have not, in their opinions, received full final documents.

That doesn't mean that the remaining issues can't be decided in the next couple of days, but for now the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987 goes on.

The Bears originally were scheduled to report to camp today with the first practice at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais scheduled for Saturday. Now, even if the NFLPA recertifies as a union and approves the CBA, the earliest teams could open training camps would be Wednesday.

That would not be enough time for the Bears or the Rams to adequately prepare for the Hall of Fame game scheduled for Aug. 7.

"It was because of the delay in opening camp," said Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips of the cancellation of the year's first preseason game.

"Obviously that's not going to be the case any longer, so it made it difficult to prepare for that game. Because we have Richard Dent being enshrined, it's disappointing from that standpoint, but probably the most fair given the circumstances of the off-season that every team starts training camp on the same day."

Dent, the franchise leader with 137 sacks, will be inducted Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio, along with Shannon Sharpe, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Chris Hanburger, Ed Sabol of NFL Films and the late Les Richter.

The Hall issued a statement Thursday night saying, "While the Pro Football Hall of Fame is disappointed by the news that the . game will not be played, we appreciate the effort that was made on our behalf by the league and players right up until the last minute.

"Obviously, the loss of this year's game will have a significant adverse economic impact on the Hall of Fame and the Canton community.

"We believe, however, that the long-term stability this new agreement will provide will be beneficial not only to the league and the players, but to the fans and the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

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