At a time when it’s becoming increasingly clear that the NFL scored a financial victory in the CBA negotiations, there’s at least one area in which the players appear to have won.
Despite agreeing that HGH testing will commence during the 2011 season, the league and the NFLPA still have not finalized a testing protocol.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell briefly addressed the situation during a Wednesday press conference that closed the annual meetings, specifically in relation to the question of whether the players’ request for a full-blown “population study” is the impediment to HGH testing.
“If the population study was the only thing in the way from us reaching an agreement, we would have an agreement,” Goodell said. “Let me put it that way. We are prepared to do that if that resolves the issue. I sent an e-mail to [NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith] before I left, and unfortunately, our meetings sort of crossed, but HGH was on that list and I expect by the end of the week I will be speaking to him about it again.”
It’s the first time, in our recollection, that the league has acknowledged a willingness to allow baseline testing of NFL players to be utilized in order to determine the appropriate naturally-occurring HGH threshold. The NFLPA consistently has expressed concern that the minimum amounts determined by testing Olympic athletes will not correlate to pro football players.
The flaw in this reasoning, of course, is that to the extent NFL players who are included in the baseline testing are using HGH, the threshold will be artificially inflated, giving players an HGH buffer zone.
Equally as confusing as the players’ reluctance to follow through with their agreement has been the NFL’s failure to take steps to enforce it. And this invites speculation that the NFL has realized that HGH testing could put too many players on the sidelines, and that the league is simply walking the P.R. tightrope between pretending to care about HGH and actually removing from the sport the men who are using it.