Hall of Fame Game canceled by league as time runs out

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, which kicks off the National Football League's preseason, has been canceled, a casualty of the four-month-old lockout of players, the league said on Thursday.

The NFL's pre-season was originally scheduled to begin August 7 with the Chicago Bears playing the St. Louis Rams in Canton, Ohio, the weekend of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

"We are unfortunately going to have to cancel the Hall of Fame Game," Goodell said during a news conference to announce league owners voted in favor of a new collective bargaining agreement. "The time is just too short."

Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies and other related festivities will go on as planned, according to Goodell.

According to the NFL, preseason games will now begin on August 11, contingent upon ratification of the agreement by the players in a timely fashion.

League owners voted overwhelmingly to support a 10-year deal with the players that could resolve their bitter labor dispute and ensure the start of the 2011 regular season is not delayed.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)