The one we continue to know about the honor system is that the honor system doesn’t work.
The NFL bans HGH use. The NFL still has no test in place to determine whether players are complying with this rule. Not surprisingly, players still ignore the rule.
Dan Patrick mentions from time to time that a starting NFL quarterback privately told Patrick within the past two or three years that 60 percent of the league uses HGH. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that HGH use is “rampant.”
“It’s like clockwork nowadays,” an unnamed NFC starter told Dunne. “Not tested and it’s easy to get. Nowadays, dude? In 2013? [Expletive] yeah. I’m just being real.”
The unnamed player estimates that 10-15 players per team use the substance, which puts the percentage in the range of 18-28.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed in 2011 that blood testing for HGH will be implemented. Two full football seasons later, blood testing for HGH has not yet commenced, due to a lingering impasse regarding the manner in which testing will happen.
Periodically, members of Congress huff and puff regarding the perception that the NFLPA is dragging its feet. But the NFL is, too. Indirectly. Subtly.
With a battalion of high-priced lawyers at the league’s disposal, the failure of the NFL to pursue a lawsuit or a grievance or some other device to compel the players to honor their agreement suggests that the NFL doesn’t really want to push the issue. On one hand, the league likely doesn’t want to try to force its players to have their skin pierced with a needle and blood drawn. On the other hand, the league possibly isn’t interested in having those predictions of rampant HGH use come to fruition — or in having the players who use HGH quit cold turkey and suddenly become unable to return from injuries.
So players can continue to use it, and there’s no way to determine it based on the contents of their blood. (If they admit to using HGH or otherwise are caught buying or possessing it, the NFL can take action.) But if HGH use really is rampant, won’t a former player eventually shed the cloak of anonymity and pen a Jose Canseco-style book, blowing the whistle on the issue?
Maybe not. The book likely wouldn’t sell. After all, most fans assume NFL players are using something to get that big, to stay that big, and to return so quickly from the injuries that happen when large bodies collide.