The first game that stands to be a victim of the NFL’s lockout is the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.
It’s less than five weeks of way and without a new collective bargaining agreement at this point – and without free agency and a player-acquisition period – it’s becoming more likely by the day the game won’t happen.
Bears safety Chris Harris doesn’t believe the game should happen if the teams cannot report to training camp on time – on July 22. NFL rules mandate teams can open training camp to have 15 days of practice before their first preseason game. If camps start late, Harris told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune that he doesn’t want to be playing with less than 15 days of practice time.
“No one wants to play four exhibition games, but that's what we do. I'm cool with playing (the Hall of Fame) game if we get training camp started on time," Harris said. "But anything past (July 22) then I'm not cool with it.
"Even if we report three days later, then it's still past that date. The Bears organization, Lovie (Smith) and Jerry (Angelo) made the decision to have training camp when we're having it because of that preseason game on Aug. 7. So that's the amount of time it would take for us to get ready for the game. That's how I look at it.”
The Bears and Rams clearly look at the additional fifth preseason game as an opportunity to perhaps gain an advantage as the entire offseason workout program has been wiped out. The NFL clearly isn’t going to want to allow teams to have a leg up on others when this is resolved. Some have suggested the teams with new head coaches will be allowed to start early too.
This much is known: There will not be a Hall of Fame Game without a new labor agreement.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
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