The NFL canceled its Hall of Fame game between St. Louis and Chicago on Thursday despite owners voting in favor of a tentative deal to end the lockout, pending player approval.
The Rams and Bears originally were scheduled to open their training camps this weekend and play in the game to open the exhibition season Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the game had to be dropped because the Rams and Bears wouldn’t have ample time to prepare.
“The time is just too short,” he said. “Unfortunately, we will not be there to play the game there this year.”
Goodell said that the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will go on as planned Aug. 6. This year’s class of inductees includes Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe and Richard Dent.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame said in a statement Thursday night that it was “disappointed” by the decision, which will have “a significant adverse economic impact” on both the hall and city of Canton.
The game would have been televised nationally on NBC. Although it’s an exhibition, it was a major draw last year, boosted by an intriguing matchup between the always popular Dallas Cowboys and former receiver Terrell Owens’ Cincinnati Bengals.
The hall said it would issue full ticket refunds for fans who already purchased seats for the game.
The Bears were supposed to open camp today, but team president Ted Phillips said it was going to be difficult to prepare to play the game because of the delay in opening camp.
“Because we have Richard Dent being enshrined, it’s disappointing from that standpoint,” Phillips said, “but probably the most fair given the circumstances of the offseason that every team starts training camp on the same day.”
A former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker has been indicted on sex-related charges involving the teenage daughter of a former Bengals assistant coach.
Prosecutors allege that Nathaniel Webster Jr., 33, engaged in sexual conduct with the girl in 2009 when she was 15 and threatened to harm her and her family if she told anyone. Bond was set at $1 million.
Webster was indicted on single counts of gross sexual imposition and sexual battery and five counts of unlawful sex with a minor with gun specifications. Webster could get up to 361/2 years in prison if convicted.
He played for Tampa Bay from 2000-2003 and for the Bengals from 2004-05. He finished his career with Denver from 2006-08.
The New York Jets reportedly hired former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore, 72, as a consultant. Moore, credited for helping Colts quarterback Peyton Manning develop into a four-time league MVP, will work during the season from his home in South Carolina. … Former NFL receiver Plaxico Burress, who was released from prison last month after serving nearly two years on a gun charge, spoke about guns to a group of about 100 children in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. One girl asked Burress if he wanted to play for the Miami Dolphins. “Of course I would love to be a Miami Dolphin,” he said.