NFL’s HGH comedy continues

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The 2011 labor agreement included an important provision:  HGH testing is coming to the NFL.  Nearly 20 months later, HGH testing is no closer than it was before the agreement was signed.

The latest evidence comes from the case of Andrus Veerpalu, an Estonian skier whose three-year suspension was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  Naturally, the NFL and the NFLPA disagree as to the meaning of the ruling, and the incident has caused Albert Breer of NFL Network to learn that the two sides have scrapped an agreement to conduct a so-called “population study” aimed at gauging the permissible natural levels of HGH in football players.

The details don’t matter, because neither the NFL nor Congress is willing to do anything more than huff and puff about the union’s refusal to honor the agreement to submit to HGH testing.  As a result, the perception is that neither the NFLPA nor the NFL truly want HGH testing.

Since the day the NFL banned the use of HGH, the prohibition has been enforced via the honor system.  The problem with the honor system?   It works roughly as well as the rhythm method.  So with no way to test for HGH, players will get caught only if a vial of HGH falls out of their letterman jackets, or if the player’s name pops up in the records of an HGH supplier the government is prosecuting.

Surely, the NFL and the NFLPA realize that, if/when HGH testing begins, plenty of players will be caught.  Which will reduce the supply of healthy players.  In turn, players who quit using HGH will not recover as quickly from injuries, likewise reducing the supply of healthy players.

And it won’t be good for the game if players are busted for using HGH, even though most fans presume that they’re using something to get big, to stay big, and/or to rebound from big hits applied by other big men.

If the NFL truly wanted to force the issue on HGH testing, wouldn’t the league unleash the legal hounds and push the issue in court or via an arbitration?  The players already have agreed to submit to testing, and the NFL has more than enough ammunition to argue that the NFLPA deliberately is dragging its feet.  The idea that the NFL doesn’t want to force players to the needle by court order only goes so far.  At some point, the NFL needs to do more than complain about the NFLPA’s refusal to proceed, or the NFLPA will continue to refuse to proceed.

Likewise, Congress has proven to be impotent on the topic, periodically issuing hollow threats but never taking action.

Through it all, the delay has given those who use HGH an opportunity to find better masking agents — or to develop the next wave of substances that work like HGH but for which testing doesn’t yet exist.

The best news for the NFL, the NFLPA, and Congress is that neither the media nor the fans seem to care that the NFL and the NFLPA have struck a deal to abandon the honor system, but that the honor system has continued to be used for two seasons, and counting.

37 responses to “NFL’s HGH comedy continues

  1. Honestly, I don’t know why they would be that scared of HGH testing, being they catch so few guys for steroids. I think most of us have a pretty good idea what an “impossible-to-achieve-without-help” body looks like and there are any number of guys who qualify that have never, ever been caught by the NFL. I would expect that to continue under any HGH testing they implemented.

  2. The NFL isn’t like MLB in that there are 100 year old records that people care about. The NFL is a here and now sport, with really the only stat mattering is how many Superbowls your franchise has won. I personally don’t care if the players use HGH or steroids, as long as they understand the inherent health risks to using. Really, the only people that care about this are the media, as they are missing out on blockbuster stories of who is taking what and failing what test.

  3. Oh, I don’t know… Say someone had a popular blog or a tv show and they could make it an issue. Nah…

  4. I don’t always agree with the more “editorial” type articles here, but this is exactly right.

    Members of Congress, the NFL owners, and NFL players all say they’re in favor of HGH testing.

    In practice, nobody is.
    Congress is too afraid to angering voters to make any threats that force the NFL and NFLPA to take action.
    The NFL owners like having big, strong, fast-healing players because it creates a more entertaining sport to watch.
    The NFLPA is beholden to its members, and it’s likely that many of their members are using HGH, so they’re not exactly excited to institute something that hurts their membership.

  5. HGH testing (I believe) requires a blood sample. That’s a lot different than the other drug tests.

  6. Honestly, I dont know how teams will stop the Chip Attack 2013 tour. HGH may be the answer to slow then down but lets be honest, it cant be stopped. And theres simply nothing you can do about it.

  7. What I (and probably most people) hate about the NFL’s steroid policy is that it is horribly inconsistent. Take for example, Cortisone. Cortisone IS a steroid and is allowed for use in the NFL to allow a player to play through an injury such as a ligament or tendon tear. It may allow the player to continue on but it also almost definitely will lead to worsening the injury due to playing on it.

    HGH however is NOT allowed even though it is NOT a steroid and actually strengthens ligaments and tendons which is great for football players. Does it offer an advantage in competition…. yes. Not as much as a steroid like Testosterone does but it does add muscle and help trim bodyfat. I’m not advocating that that the NFL should allow HGH to be used… but if it’s going to be banned, than actual steroids such as Cortisone which can lead to worsening injuries should be banned as well. Whatever you choose… be consistent!

  8. Not that I agree with them not doing testing, but don’t you think that Congress has much more important things to do then keep getting involved in steroids and HGH in sports. I can think of a bunch of thing they need to do before they get more involved like balancing the nations budget for example

  9. Florio you are sounding like that kid no one picked for their team during gym class dodgeball. Dude give it a rest. If the farms don’t care and the game is for the amusement of the fans (not to mention the financial enhancement of the league and players) why press the issue? Besides, the research on HGH is far from conclusive in terms of its risk or even its impact on ones abilities. About the only thing agreed to is that it is super at helping folks heal. Given keeping players on the field is the idea, I can hardly see a case for banning it from grown men.

  10. As much as fans think Goodell oversteps his boundaries, this issue actually falls under his his power and he’s actually not doing anything- so have a problem with him for how he is handling this.

    Issue the court order, get HGH testing implemented.

  11. Right now RGIII is a prime candidate to be tested for HGH. The only way for an athlete to recover as fast as Adrian Peterson recovered last year is to use HGH or similar substances. HGH works wonders.

  12. HGH wouldn’t really affect a player’s performance that much. It does assist in healing, however. Isn’t that a good thing?

  13. @eventhorizon04 – despite it’s saber-rattling, Congress doesn’t have the power to force the NFLPA to test. Harvey Waxman was the ringleader in the 2005 Congressional hearings on baseball and steroids, and he got maybe 5% of what he wanted, and the MLBPA didn’t agree to anything it hadn’t already agreed to.

  14. If everyone was allowed to use HGH, wouldn’t that make the playing field level?? Also, it seems to me that the NFL is the kind of sport in which the use of HGH might improve the quality of play, and lengthen the careers of veteran players. Teams could get their money’s worth from players instead of cutting them.

  15. I do not care if they are using HGH. If the media and government go on a headhunt and ruin this sport, I’m going to be one very pissed off consumer.

  16. mj1818 says: Mar 26, 2013 8:33 PM

    “I agree I don’t think the NFL wants to catch players using HGH. Who wants slow, dull and unhealthy players on the field?”

    Bear fans loved Urlacher.

  17. hgh is dangerous and should only be used for medical purposes if absolutely possible. they put enough nutrients in baby formula and food for us to grow strong and healthy. whoever uses hgh for physical advantage is a disgrace to humanity and is basically insecure about their life. i am thankful i am human…only human.

  18. The fact they aren’t testing for HGH, Of course players are going to use it. It doesn’t take Einstein to realize that. If the League is serious about cleaning the sport up then get the blood tests and do it. I couldn’t care less whether guys use it or not, they are competitors are trying to get an edge, at the end of the day they are one’s who are going to have live the Possible side effects.

  19. HGH use should be transparent & only used under limited medical supervision to help players recover from certain types of serious injury & then get them off it.

  20. Upton Sinclair once said “it’s tough to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Seems relevant here.

  21. The only motivation for the NFL to make rule changes these days is the threat of future litigation (eg concussions, etc). By “soft-rules” against it’s use, could the NFL be opening itself up to potential litigation involving the negative health effects of long term HGH usage?

  22. Shhh! Clay Matthews girlfriend Aaron might take offense!

    Looks like the Minnesota children are on spring break. Not going anywhere huh..just sitting home on grandmas computer?

  23. HGH is a fountain of youth. I’m 37 and I feel and look better than ever, thanks to HGH and Testosterone. I have a hot 23 year old longtime girlfriend and I’m ripped. I got hurt at work and thanks to HGH I was healed and back to work in no time. I don’t bash anyone for getting younger.

  24. Maybe if they took steroids/hgh out of the game there would be less concussions and we could stop the moves towards flag football.

  25. Every time this is brought up on this site, we get another handful of pro-hGH posts, usually from the “it just helps you heal faster” crowd:

    From USADA’s website — risks associated with hGH use: “Severe headaches, loss of vision, Acromegaly (protruding or enlarged jaw, brow, skull, hands and feet), high blood pressure and heart failure, Diabetes and tumors, crippling arthritis.”

    My measure is and always has been: Would you want your son to use it?

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