As the NFL and the NFLPA move toward HGH testing, a stream of statements from prominent players will make it hard for the NFLPA to apply the brakes.
The latest endorsement for the blood test comes from a trio of Panthers: quarterback Cam Newton, receiver Steve Smith, and tight end Greg Olsen.
“Whatever the NFL decides to do I’m all for it, whether HGH testing or any testing,” Newton said, via the Associated Press. “I’ll be prepared to do the test.”
Olsen realizes that, if the NFL isn’t proactive, it could tarnish the game. (Even though plenty of people presume football players don’t get and stay that big, strong, and fast without chemical enhancement.)
“I don’t think we want to go down the road that baseball’s got themselves in, trying to play catch-up,” Olsen said.
Olsen also seemed to concede that he wonders whether players are cheating.
“Sometimes I walk out on the field and go, ‘Geez, I guess I didn’t get those genes the day they were giving them out,’” Olsen said. “Yeah, I would welcome [testing]. I think it’d be great.”
Smith also supports efforts to make the game cleaner, but he’s concerned about the potential impact of taking blood on player performance.
“You’re looking at some liabilities and health risks,” Smith said. “That’s my only issue. If you take my blood on Wednesday morning, and I’m in full pads at noon at 110-degree heat with humidity just to see if you’re clean, I won’t do that.”
His concern is valid, but it can be addressed through education. Giving blood for an HGH test is hardly the same thing as donating blood. Anyone who has had a physical with a comprehensive array of blood tests knows that they don’t take all much blood at all.
Regardless of Smith’s hesitation, it seems increasingly inevitable that HGH testing is coming. Especially since plenty of players have said in the past week they want it — and none have said publicly they don’t.