Whenever the U.S. Congress decides to sniff around the backyard of a specific private industry, a common refrain is this.
“Doesn’t the government have better things to do?”
Given the whole health care thing and the war in Afghanistan and the economy in the crapper, it’s not a bad point.
But, still, Congress spent time this week pondering brain injuries in football. Next week, they’ll take a look at the Minnesota statute that has provided refuge to Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams after testing positive for Bumetanide, a prescription diuretic that also is a banned substance under the league’s steroids policy.
As MDS pointed out earlier tonight, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will convene at 1:00 p.m. ET on November 3, for the purpose of conducting an inquiry into the situation, according to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director De Smith will testify.
It’s actually a fairly simple fix, if Congress chooses to get involved. By passing a narrow law declaring that the terms of a collectively-bargained drug-testing program applicable to businesses operating in interstate commerce preempt any state laws that might otherwise apply, the loophole would be forever closed.
Of course, the NFL and the union could fix the situation as well, by agreeing that any state-specific statutory drug-testing claims specifically are waived by the players, whose rights will be determined by the grievance process in the CBA.
But that approach could result in the union trying to leverage the NFL, claiming that the current state of the drug-testing protocol is the league’s problem — which is the same posture the NFLPA has assumed with respect to the current system for paying rookies. So, basically, the union would want something in return.
Thus, in this specific case, the NFL should welcome the involvement of Congress.
Our only to the league? This time around, Goodell should be prepared to talk about Rush Limbaugh and Fergie. And possibly Eddie DeBartolo.