The NFL and its Players Association planned to discuss a number of issues lingering between the two parties at this week’s Scouting Combine. So far, things haven’t gotten off to a great start.
It began with NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth telling reporters that players don’t trust NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The league responded Thursday by accusing the union of stalling in order to prevent HGH testing of players.
“It is a disservice to all for us not to focus on the issue at hand, particularly in the context of HGH testing,” (NFL senior vice president of law and labor policy Adolpho) Birch said. “It has been a stall. I don’t know if it is a tactic. There is absolutely no reason for this to have taken this long and for us to not have testing implemented. We should have been more than a year into this by now.”
Birch says the union’s dissension began with calls for an NFL-only population study and has since shifted toward a strengthening of the appeals process. He also suggested the union has attempted to connect testing proposals to issues negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL would like to be able to determine exactly what substances are causing positive tests — especially in light of a number of players attributing their failed tests to the ADHD drug Adderall. However, the league is concerned that the NFLPA is trying to create a circumstance where players can extend the appeals process in order to delay — or in some cases, avoid — punishment.
“What we don’t want is to create a tree-lined path for someone to be able to utilize the appeals process to stall out the inevitability of discipline or to simple delay the imposition of discipline,” Birch said. “We don’t want frivolous appeals. We don’t want redundant appeals. We don’t want appeals designed solely to delay the inevitable.”
Talks will continue on this issue, although there doesn’t appear to be a resolution in sight. If discussions on any of the other topics the two sides have set forth are equally contentious, little may be accomplished in Indianapolis this week.
– Marcas Grant, contributing editor