The NFL and the NFLPA don’t usually agree on much. For now, they agree on the reason for their latest disagreement. Which is nice.
Specifically, the league and the union haven’t finalized a deal to conduct HGH testing because the union wants third-party arbitration to apply to all HGH violations. The league wants it to apply to cases involving positive tests only.
“NFL players two years ago overwhelmingly agreed to HGH testing and to continuing the Commissioner’s longstanding disciplinary authority in cases where a player is found to have violated the law by a judge or jury,” NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch said in a statement released to PFT.
“The union’s latest demand has nothing to do with appeals from positive drug tests, nothing to do with ensuring a level playing field and nothing to do with keeping players safe from dangerous substances. It is simply a case of buyer’s remorse, and an effort to renegotiate part of a long-term agreement that they have now decided they don’t like.
“The union knows that HGH testing is the right thing to do for our game, for its membership, and for the millions of people who look to the NFL and NFL players to set the example for fair and exciting play. It is time for the NFLPA to stop the delay tactics, to move forward for the good of the game and players, and stop focusing on protecting people that break the law.”
Though at times over the last two years it has appeared that the NFLPA has been trying to delay the implementation of HGH testing, this last sticking point seems to be legitimate. From the union’s perspective, all HGH-related punishment should be subject to neutral arbitration. From the league’s perspective, only HGH punishment arising from positive testing should be subject to neutral arbitration, because under prior labor deals HGH punishment arising from violations of the law or other evidence of HGH use or possession gave the Commissioner the final say.
It’s a narrow issue, but the union’s adherence to it can’t fairly be described as “buyer’s remorse” or a “delay tactic” or “protecting people that break the law.” The NFLPA is trying to protect people from the largely unfettered discretion of Roger Goodell, who sometimes is wrong even when he genuinely believes he’s right. (We all fit that description from time to time, don’t we?) If the NFL wants a comprehensive HGH policy, why shouldn’t all HGH punishments be subject to the same standard of third-party arbitration?
Each side’s position is reasonable. Which means that the NFLPA isn’t being unreasonable. And the NFL isn’t being unreasonable. Together, it would be irresponsible and unreasonable for the two parties to fail to carry the ball the final yard across the goal line.