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NFLPA facing a new area of player discontent

NFL Labor Agreement Signed Getty Images

In 2006, the NFLPA drove a hard bargain with the NFL while negotiating a new labor deal.  The NFL, focused on the dollars and cents of the situation, apparently whiffed on several key non-economic terms, the impact of which wasn’t noticed until after the ink dried.

Five years later, the tables were turned.  The league had the upper hand financially, and with the pressure of preserving the shared pot of money that comes from the preseason, the two sides rushed to get a deal done in late July.  The NFLPA, focused on the dollars and cents of the situation, apparently whiffed on several key non-economic terms.

And the impact is being noticed, now that the ink has dried.

From the agreement to expose eight players to fines and suspensions for violations of the personal  conduct policy during the lockout to an agreement to submit to HGH testing, the arguably hasty decisions made by NFLPA leadership in the final days of the lockout are creating discomfort, to say the least, for the folks who run the union.

There’s now another issue.

As Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports recently reported, 11 players are facing discipline after testing positive for recreational drugs after showing up for training camp.  Two unnamed player representatives told Cole that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith promised that a “grace period” would apply after the finalization of a new labor deal.  But when the players showed up, there was no grace period.

“I told De that this was a concern of a number of players after the lockout ended and he said, ‘I got you covered,’” one of the player reps told Cole.  “I went back and told the players, ‘Look, whatever it is you’ve been doing, you need to stop and be ready, but that we would probably have a 30-day grace period before the league started testing.

“Then we get to camp and [the league is] testing us on Day 2.  Guys are looking at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.  It was embarrassing.  I called the union and I was told there were a lot of things that fell through the cracks at the last minute.”

With no drug testing during the lockout, a grace period became important not because players needed to wean themselves off hard drugs, but because metabolites of the most prevalent illegal substance used by NFL players — marijuana — remain in the system for up to a month.

Though a league source tells PFT that a deal between the NFL and the NFLPA that would likely preclude discipline of the 11 players (one of whom also faces a suspension) is close, the damage has already been done.

“[E]ver since we approved the agreement, it’s been one thing after another and we can’t get straight answers on a lot of stuff,” one of the player reps told Cole.

“It just seems that the ball got dropped on a lot of stuff because everybody was so concerned about the finances,” a player rep told Cole.  “There was a lot of stuff that players cared about just as much as the finances and it got lost.”

With Smith up for re-election in March, that sentiment won’t help him get another contract to lead the union.  And so, only a few months after resolving one of the greatest challenges of his career, the manner in which the lockout-ending CBA was finalized could spark an even greater challenge for Smith.

Based on Smith’s recent verbal assault on U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, Smith apparently knows it.  By re-creating the “us against them” vibe that existed before and during the lockout, Smith could defuse the internal strife and persuade the players that they need him to continue to carry the flag.

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22 Responses to “NFLPA facing a new area of player discontent”
  1. greenpacker says: Nov 13, 2011 9:06 AM

    why are they making such a big deal of the hgh thing? They should test more frequently for dangerous drugs like pot and caffeine.

    as a packers fan from jersey i can honestly say as a habitual user that hgh is one of the safest recreational drug one could invest their lives in.

  2. joetoronto says: Nov 13, 2011 9:06 AM

    “Guys are looking at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

    It must be the pimp hat.

    GFY, DeMaurice.

  3. CKL says: Nov 13, 2011 9:11 AM

    Yeah somehow I’m having a hard time mustering sympathy for them that they kept using illegal drugs right up to TC because they thought they had a grace period. :roll:

  4. badtimeoutcaldwell says: Nov 13, 2011 9:12 AM

    Typical union mentality… Blame your union leader because you couldnt keep a joint out of your mouth with a multi-million dollar career on the line…

  5. captainloaded says: Nov 13, 2011 9:14 AM

    Here’s an idea, knock off the illegal activities and then you won’t have to worry about it.

  6. muckman207 says: Nov 13, 2011 9:15 AM

    How dare the NFL take action on employees who are using ILLEGAL drugs!

  7. bhink73 says: Nov 13, 2011 9:17 AM

    Did they negotiate a grace period for assaullt with a deadly weapon, rape, DUI.etc, etc? No. BECAUSE IT’S ILLGAL! If the players were doing this stuff while on “vacation” that doesn’t mean they’re not accountable. Wake up and join the ranks of every other person in the civilized world!

  8. pgear says: Nov 13, 2011 9:20 AM

    Here’s an idea: Stop smoking dope, idiots. Nobody feels sorry for you.

  9. trbowman says: Nov 13, 2011 9:21 AM

    Godspeed, De

  10. chc4 says: Nov 13, 2011 9:22 AM

    Funny how this article makes no mention of the fact that recreational drugs are illegal. The union may have dropped the ball but shouldn’t the player be held accountable? They are professionals after all.

  11. yajas says: Nov 13, 2011 9:42 AM

    greenpacker says: “…should test more frequently for dangerous drugs like pot and caffeine. …as a habitual user that hgh is one of the safest recreational drug one could invest their lives in.”

    I can’t tell if you’re being sarchastic or you’re just stoned. Please clarify.

  12. kingjoe1 says: Nov 13, 2011 9:51 AM

    Just stop testing for pot.

  13. gb4mn0 says: Nov 13, 2011 9:52 AM

    Smith doesn’t need to do any campaigning for the 53 vikequeen votes. That criminal organization needs the cover of the NFLPA just to keep enough players dressed from game to game.

  14. flyerscup2010 says: Nov 13, 2011 10:55 AM

    i was mostly in support of the players over the owners during the lockout…but de smith really is a clown and i’ve felt that way since the day he won the job as the executive director. there’s no two ways about it. he’s like a politician. he’s only looking out for #1.

  15. hawkjuice says: Nov 13, 2011 11:00 AM

    Pot isn’t a performance enhancing drug, and its not dangerous, and its almost legal in some states so just stop testing for it.

  16. melikefootball says: Nov 13, 2011 11:08 AM

    Lets see..fire the union…get them back when it benefits the player…as don’t want to practice, now don’t want to be accountable to be stupid enough to use any drugs. These players crying foul could not wait to run and resign when lockout was over. The same players did not go to another team to sign they still belonged to the team they played for, so why do they feel for breaking a law they are above it all.. When this new test starts…..look out a lot of practice squad players will be statring. fans know it and players know it…

  17. mrbigass says: Nov 13, 2011 11:10 AM

    Wake and Bake ya bunch of tossers!!!

  18. rpiotr01 says: Nov 13, 2011 11:32 AM

    They should have exchanged stringent hGH testing for relaxing the pot testing. Who cares if these guys smoke pot? They get the snot knocked out of them during games, let them use something that helps with the pain relief and – god forbid! – allows them to enjoy themselves with minimal negative side effects.

  19. corvusrex96 says: Nov 13, 2011 11:55 AM

    If players continue be tested for recreational, non performance enhacing drugs such as pot, then ALL NFL employees should subjected to random testing

    Owners, GMs, Scouts, Admin Assistants and Janitors. Then we will see what EVERYONE is up to.
    Maybe we will find some inconvienent truths

  20. gmen1987 says: Nov 13, 2011 12:03 PM

    The players really need to realize that they have to follow the law like the rest of us.

    May God bless Roger Goodell, a good man.

  21. leftcoastnative says: Nov 13, 2011 12:32 PM

    Obviously, Smith was in over his head as the lead negotiator for the NFLPA, and as far as the complaints about no grace period for the players to cleanse their systems after months of doping, TOO BAD!! Too many players are idiots in thinking they can beat the system and abuse the drug policies and then cry when nailed.

    Fine and suspend them, regardless of who they may be.

  22. mashoaf says: Dec 5, 2011 12:47 AM

    @corvusrex96… They do random drug tests on employees. The Dallas Cowboys QB coach in 07 was suspended for using HGH.

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