Possibly costing saving the American public the horrors an August without an exhibition football schedule, the New York Times’ Judy Battista reports NFL owners have reached a consensus on a 10-year collective bargaining agreement that could end the four month lockout next week, pending ratification from (what’s left) of the players union.

Players would be allowed to return to team facilities starting Saturday to take physicals, and on that day teams can start signing their own rookies and free-agent players to conditional contracts.

On July 27, the league year will begin with free agency and training camps open for all teams, provided the union has re-formed by that time. The players’ executive board must also recommend approval of the collective bargaining agreement by Saturday for players to be allowed into the buildings.

In announcing the vote of the owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell also noted that the preseason Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams, had been canceled, the first on-field casualty of the labor unrest.

Whether it’s a mark of his rebellious nature or tenuous grip on reality, Raiders owner Al Davis abstained from Thursday’s vote, citing “profound philosophical differences on a number of issues — both of a football and economic nature.” Whether presenting their proposal as something close to a done deal is a mark of arrogance or a firm grip on reality on the part of Davis’ fellow owners, remains to be seen.