On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a speech at the Harvard School of Public Health regarding the league’s efforts to make the game safer. After he finished his prepared remarks, Goodell took questions from the crowd.
Per Albert Breer of NFL Network, one of the questions related to HGH testing.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have that agreement,” Goodell said. “I just talked to [NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith] this week about it. I still believe it’s something that’s in the best interest of the players, from a health and safety standpoint, but it’s also in the best interest of the game. We’ll have, hopefully, some meetings in the next couple weeks to address some of the remaining issues. I’m hopeful we’ll get something done.”
To date, there has been plenty of hope but no action. The league and the NFLPA agreed more than 15 months ago that there will be HGH testing, commencing in the 2011 season.
Let’s repeat that. They agreed in August 2011 that HGH testing would start last season.
Since then, the league periodically has criticized the NFLPA for stonewalling. But the NFL has done nothing to force the union to agree via the various available legal remedies for enforcing a binding contractual agreement.
Maybe the league realizes that compelling the union, and in turn the players, to submit to blood testing for HGH won’t end well. A cynic would wonder whether the league is willing to delay the launch of HGH testing in the hopes that those who use HGH will find an alternative substance that can’t be detected via testing or a masking agent that will keep them from being caught. If, as many suspect, a high percentage of players are using HGH in order to recover from injuries and if, as many believe, HGH works, shutting off the supply will make it harder for players to suit up and play.
And that wouldn’t be good for anybody.
Regardless of the reasons, the agreement to submit to HGH testing continues to go unhonored by the players, and unenforced by the league. It could stay that way until Congress decides to do something more than send letters politely asking the parties to proceed.