Last Friday, the NFL and NFLPA demonstrated via a quick back-and-forth that they finally have reached an agreement regarding HGH testing. Sort of. In short, each side believes that if the other acted more like its baseball counterparts, the NFL would have HGH testing.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has since elaborated on that point, in an interview with Jarrett Bell of USA Today. And Smith reiterated that, if the NFL would be willing to use the same procedures as Major League Baseball, NFL players would be tested for HGH.
“The day when the league simply says it is willing to adopt a system similar or identical to what Major League Baseball agreed to, that’s a day that we’ll have HGH testing in the NFL,” Smith said.
The NFL seems to be receptive to the NFLPA’s position. “We appreciate the union’s apparent openness to implementing an effective HGH testing program and look forward to working through the specifics so we can begin testing as soon as possible,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT in response to Smith’s most recent comments.
It’s encouraging, as is the reality that the NFL’s position won’t need much tweaking to fall in line with the MLB protocol. While the NFLPA contends that the NFL has “steadfastly opposed” third-party arbitration, the NFL has agreed to third-party arbitration, which would remove the appeal process from the league and assign it to an outsider.
Here’s hoping they can work out their differences and implement HGH testing. The ongoing delay has prompted growing suspicion that both sides fear HGH testing will result in extensive positive tests and suspensions, due to concerns that the honor system regarding HGH use simply isn’t working.
Smith denies such concerns. “If someone were going to tell me they knew of a player in the NFL taking HGH and it’s going undetected, yes, I’d be concerned,” Smith told Bell. “So far, no one has said that. Our players want a clean game more than [Commissioner] Roger Goodell wants a clean game. The only people who put themselves at risk on the football field are members of this union. The last time we checked, not one owner got hurt at a game. And when you talk to every one of the players, they want a clean game. But they also want a system that is fair and transparent.”
The players who aren’t using HGH surely want a clean game. The players who are using HGH surely would prefer to keep doing so, undetected, with a system that prohibits players from using it but that currently features no effective way of enforcing the rules.