League wants HGH testing, needs players to want it, too

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In a recent blurb regarding the reported increase in HGH use among NFL players, we suggested that the league isn’t using available legal avenues to compel the NFLPA to honor its 2011 agreement to permit HGH testing perhaps because the league doesn’t really want HGH testing.

Our comment sparked a back-channel discussion with the powers-that-be at 345 Park Avenue, which culminated in a Friday telephone interview with NFL Senior V.P. of Labor Law and Policy Adolpho Birch.

“There is no vehicle we could use that is anything beyond pointless,” Birch said regarding the use of litigation or arbitration to compel the players to honor the existing deal.

Birch explained that the Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t specifically mandate testing; it requires negotiation as to the procedures that will be used.  At most, then, a grievance filed under the labor deal would result in a ruling directing the NFLPA to negotiate in good faith — something the NFLPA surely believes it’s doing.

Litigation in court isn’t an option, Birch said, given the specific terms of the labor deal.

He suggested that the NFL could file an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, but Birch pointed out that the process could take longer than it would to negotiate an HGH testing agreement without government involvement.  Moreover, compelling the players to submit to testing isn’t the way the league wants to proceed.

“The root of it is that, even if we can force the issue, that is not going to work,” Birch said.  “The cornerstone of this policy from 1989 forward has been that the players have understood, appreciated, and bought in to what we’re trying to do.  At the end of the day, it’s going to have to be negotiated.”

The problem is that, in the 21 months since the labor deal was signed, little if any negotiation has occurred regarding HGH testing.  From the league’s perspective, it’s unclear precisely what the NFLPA wants in return for a commitment to submit to HGH testing.

“A year ago I would say one thing, three months ago I would say another thing, right now I’ll tell you I have no idea,” Birch said.

So we asked the NFLPA what the players want at the present time.

“They will never say it publicly, but they have admitted in their correspondence
with us that the recent ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport poses
legitimate problems,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told PFT via email, referring to an arbitration ruling that supposedly raises questions regarding the legitimacy and reliability of HGH testing.  “We have maintained from the start that a test will be agreed to when there is transparency and reliability of the test and a fair due process to match.  We are working to achieve that.”

Some think the NFLPA wants even more, using HGH testing as leverage to secure, for example, outside arbitration on all player discipline issues, and other concessions.  Regardless, HGH testing won’t happen until the players decide to embrace HGH testing.  The NFLPA ultimately needs to secure buy-in from the players.  In turn, the NFL ultimately needs to give the NFLPA enough bells and whistles to allow that to happen.

In theory, the impasse could continue until the current labor deal expires, in 2021.  As a practical matter, the players could get more serious about embracing HGH testing if Congress ever does anything more than huff and puff about holding hearings and questioning players about HGH testing, HGH use, and the ways in which players get it.

If that happens, everyone could end up with mud on their shoes.  Once players and trainers and doctors and others are placed under oath before Congress, the NFL and the NFLPA lose all control over the final outcome.

51 responses to “League wants HGH testing, needs players to want it, too

  1. The owners locked the players out, stole from them via collusion and continue to allow Goodell to impose unjust and draconian suspensions.

    So now the Players Association is now hostile and uncooperative.

    Shocker, I tell you!

  2. Why would the players (and the owners too I guess) want HGH testing ? Stronger, faster players make more money. If players cared about their long term effects, 80% of them wouldn’t be bankrupt within a few years after playing.

  3. The union doesn’t want testing because it fears 30% or more of the players would be busted immediately. Furthermore, the union wants to try to get something in return for agreeing to implement something it already agreed to in principle, but clearly has no intent to honor. Wait these overpaid idiots out, and then take back control of the game from the EMPLOYEES in 2021. Notice, I did not say partners, co-owners, stake-holders or any other title that would imply anything other than replaceable labor.

  4. I don’t want testing, I love watching real life super heroes on the field. I believe the advancement in PEDs have help the NFL progress and surpass all other sports in the US.

  5. Can’t decide if simply letting everyone use HGH will cause more brutal injuries due to enhanced size, speed etc of the combatants or whether that risk will be offset by the ridiculously enhanced rehabilation that HGH also provides.

  6. filthymcnasty1 is a billy goat eating, bridge dwelling troll.

    he’s just jealous that his team will never have a future hall of fame RB, like AD.

  7. Sounds good to me and while your on improving things how about limiting children to different women per player to a national average.

  8. If fans & the media want HGH testing as much as they say they do, then start putting player’s feet to the fire. Rather than publish another semi-pointless article pointing the finger at the NFLPA, start pointing the finger at individual players. Meaning, every interview with every player should result in a series of direct HGH testing questions. Fans at meet & greets should do the same thing. Once players are constantly forced to confront the issue & tire from being bombarded with the questions, the players who genuinely are clean will be motivated to force the NFLPA to finally agree on the HGH testing.

    That is the only way this will get done.

  9. What is the players reason for not wanting testing. I know what the real reason is but how do they defend it?

  10. But they need to tighten up their testing. and not have more Richard Sherman debacles. If the guys are testing positive make sure you don’t have a ton of loopholes for them to excuse getting caught.

  11. ozymandias121 says: May 4, 2013 3:59 PM

    101% of NFL players are using HGH. No wonder the league doesn’t want too test for it.
    I believe it is everyone except a couple of dropback passers, punters and kickers.

  12. It is obvious because so many players are using PED’s they have authorized their union to shield them from testing. If the NFL feels they are stalling and not acting in good faith then they should go ahead and file a grievance. After 20 months of fruitless negotiations how much longer do they plan on waiting? At the very least it puts pressure on the union to start negotiating in good faith. All this stalling makes me wonder if the NFL really wants testing.

  13. boobschannel says:
    May 4, 2013 3:42 PM
    filthymcnasty1 is a billy goat eating, bridge dwelling troll.

    he’s just jealous that his team will never have a future hall of fame RB, like AD.


    The Packers have 6 running backs already in the hall of fame.

    I think that’s as many Vikings players total that have been inducted.

  14. Blame the PLAYERS themselves! They take the HGH, they enjoy high salaries, and when the players careers are over they will sue the NFL and claim that “the league didn’t protect them by banning HGH or they knew the players took HGH and turned a blind eye to it and essentially allowed the use of HGH by the players”.
    Who is NOT blamed here? The NFLPA of course. NOBODY wants to blame a union, especially the media because unions and the media are in bed with liberal democrats. Liberals love to blame the private sector, especially private corporations, instead of blaming employees who do things to themselves it is easier to blame their employers.
    The NFLPA represents the players and is wholly against any kind of testing/protection of those who they represent. That way, the lawyers who represent the players as union members can profit by representing the same players in concussion, injury, and now HGH lawsuits against the NFL.
    Blame the NFLPA lawyers and blame the players for not protecting themselves.
    THIS is why NFL tickets prices are so high! The NFL needs to protect itself from its employers, their terrible union, and the lawsuits that come from both.

  15. Instead about banning HGH, how about educating why a ban is unnecessary, as there is no proof that it is an effective PE. Worry about the real stuff, do more extensive tests for them.

  16. kerryc21realty says: May 4, 2013 4:11 PM

    What is the players reason for not wanting testing. I know what the real reason is but how do they defend it?
    Because it’s not really clear what they’re defending, or what is being attacked. It’s a question of where exactly do we draw the line as to what is and what isn’t a PED.

    I’m not taking a stance on the problem– just explaining why HGH use is not just black and white. Beta-Carotene, found in green vegetables, triggers increased production of HGH, as do squats at the gym.

    Calcium also triggers extra production of HGH; carbohydrates give the body extra energy to perform in athletic events; potassium prevents naurally occurring muscle cramps; and fluoride prevents naturally occurring tooth decay: should the league ban milk or bread or bananas or toothpaste?

    There are all kinds of chemicals we use in everyday life that give our bodies unnatural advantages: at what point do you say milk is legal, but protein shakes are not; or squats and broccoli are legal, but IGF-1 (the naturally-occurring chemical Ray Lewis used) is not?

    Again, not taking a stance, just saying the issue is more complex than it seems.

  17. If you dont think AD did something to not only come back so fast, but have an all time season, wake up. Cool with me. I love watching him play.

  18. Why would the players (and the owners too I guess) want HGH testing ? Stronger, faster players make more money. If players cared about their long term effects, 80% of them wouldn’t be bankrupt within a few years after playing.

    The players want to retain their right to sue for the things that they do to themselves. THAT is wrong b/c players (and their liberal union) carry ZERO liability, only the NFL has liability in this and that is wrong. At some point the tail (players and their union) needs to stop wagging the dog (NFL as a whole).
    The blame belongs on the players themselves. I demand that the media badger them about HGH, not coaches, GMs, and Goodell.

  19. The fact of the matter is in football, most people realize and don’t particularly care that some of these guys are on the stuff.

    Face it, the only reason baseball started to crack down on the stuff is because clearly juiced up guys like McGwire and Bonds were breaking or about to break baseballs sacred individual records like 61 in a season and 755 for a career.

    Football doesn’t have the same dopey sentimentality for individual records/milestones like baseball does.

    I mean, I know Emmitt Smith is the all-time leading rusher, but i have no idea how many total yds he has for his career. Same with Marino and TD passes (or is it Favre, see, I’m proving my point).

  20. screw testing for hgh. Ride the players butts for the steroids, but hgh? Let em have it.

    the league should embrace this drug. Helps the players recover quicker from injuries? I’m all for that.

    Bring it out into the open. Its a tool use it, don’t abuse it and for god sake don’t ban it.

  21. tokyosandblaster says:
    May 4, 2013 4:21 PM

    The Packers have 6 running backs already in the hall of fame.

    I think that’s as many Vikings players total that have been inducted.
    Actually, the vikings have 17 hall of famers, and that is impressive considering the packers only have 13 inducted since the Vikings became a franchise…

  22. This is simple. Neither side wants testing until the players start getting themselves off of it. But the players won’t do that until there is a threat to their careers (like suspensions). But the NFL can’t force the matter because the NFL couldn’t survive having up to a third of their players suspended. Stalemate.

  23. you mean these hall of famers?

    Johnny McNally (various positions) 14 seasons – 386 yards and 3 TDs
    Clarke Hinkle (FB) 9 seasons – 3,860 yards and 35 TDs
    Tony Canadeo (HB) 9 seasons – 4,197 yards and 31 TDs
    Paul Hornung (HB) 7 seasons – 3,711 yards and 50 TDs
    Jim Taylor (FB) 8 seasons – 8,597 yards and 83 TDs

    compared to

    Adrian Peterson (RB) 6 seasons – 8,849 yards and 80 TDs

    numbers don’t lie.

  24. Well, the Vikings have 13 in the hall of fame not 6. For the packers they have 4 Halfbacks ( not including Full back/Half back Hybrids) in the hall of fame. The Vikings have 1 half back, not including Peterson or foreman and Bill Brown, all of which may at some point be in the “Hall”. Given time, the Vikings former players in the hall will be close to the packers amount. One other thing, how is Scott Studwell not in the “Hall” yet!

  25. Great! Hopefully they never have testing. HGH and steroids are NOT the same thing. If the public would actually do some research instead of just believing the negative PR campaign as gospel, there wouldn’t be so much outrage about it. Doctors prescribe HGH to patients for a variety of reasons, and surely one of those reasons isn’t to harm their patients. The comparison of HGH to steroids is as ridiculous and uneducated as the comparison of marijuana to meth. And the vast majority of Americans lump them all together. No one wants to take the time to do their own research. These players make a lot of money to entertain us, and surely they know the risk/rewards of HGH if they choose to use it. Sit back, watch the television show that is the NFL, and enjoy.

  26. These Packers scrubs are just salty that Adrian made them look so foolish last season. If the Vikings hadn’t beat GB in the final regular season game then GB would of had a MUCH easier postseason. So ultimately Packer fans are just licking their wounds

  27. “I believe it is everyone except a couple of dropback passers, punters and kickers.” What is a drop back kicker or punter?

    “The Packers have only had 1 running back score more than 50 Tds.

    Adrian has 80, and has only played 6 seasons.”

    Ok what does either have to do with the other? Point please.

  28. You kids are missing the point

    Packers hall of famers stats: all legit.

    Adrienne Petersons stats: Viking HGH powered.

    The Packers got to the hall on their own power, not by cheating.

  29. And someone had the misguided opinion that the Packers had no running backs in the hall.

    Are you guys counting people like Warren Moon? Good lord I hope not.

  30. If these guys couldn’t take HGH and other things, one of two things would occur. The level of play would be horrendous or half the NFL would succumb to career ending injury almost immediately. This isn’t ping pong these guys are playing.

  31. I bet the Steelers are totally against testing for hgh…and so is dr Richard rydze BC then he would have no more Steelers to sell his dope too

  32. How do you regulate “Human growth hormone”? The levels of natural consistency very from person to person . Hence a society of multi heighted individuals. Is the league prepared to umbrella HGH with Testosterone and thus define genetically what a man is and/or should be.

  33. So what I can take from this article is: NFL policy hinges on what is posted by Mike Florio, king of internet trolls.

    Hurry up and delete this comment like you do all of the others I post!

  34. whats up with everyone on Peterson’s case. its not like he was wasn’t trucking over guys on HGH themselves. and who says the Packers in the 60’s weren’t on the juice themselves. the 60’s is when you started seeing freakish Olympic bodybuilders like Arnold.

  35. Packer trolls say Adrian Peterson, I say Clay Matthews. Unless someone has a better explanation for how a part-time player in college suddenly became more advanced physically….. At least Peterson has been a stud since he first put on pads.

  36. “How do you regulate “Human growth hormone”? The levels of natural consistency very from person to person .”


    And so do various other hormones and cell counts in our body. However everyone that can be tested for, there is some interval range that is considered normal for their age, race and sex. When your tests come back numbers outside that range or borderline you put up flags for your physician to see if something else is going on. It could be something or not depending on your health @ the time and/or other test.

    Testing for HGH would be no different. If these guys are taking it for an advantage they are not going to using it just enough to be @ the borderline.

    Its likely going to fall outside of some range.

  37. Can someone explain to me how the players in the concussion suit filed against the league have a leg to stand on. the players have and will continue to use supplements weather legal or illegal to gain a competitive advantage. ie bigger stronger faster. In doing so the collisions became more violent which led to the concussion suit. If the players intentionally enhanced their physical attributes why is the league being held responsible for result of the players willfull negligence? It is pretty obvious the players are just as much to blame here…….. I’m just sayin…….

  38. I can’t believe nobody on here is talking about the fact that concussions and other traumatic brain injuries often cause pituitary gland damage which regulate the control of hormones like HGH. So if players body’s are naturally unable to produce the same naturally occurring amount of a hormone that helps you heal and recover from injuries, is it really a shock that they’re taking supplemental HGH treatments which btw are available to anyone who medically needs it. Perhaps if the NFL was not slow pedaling brain injury research for the past 20-30 years, there would have been a medical program in place that would have detected this and recognized HGH replacement therapy as potentially beneficial. Of course in that scenario the NFL would have had to have actually cared about its players health and not just growing this business into what it’s became during that same time frame.

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