NEWS

DeMaurice Smith: NFLPA, league cooperated on Dolphins probe


By Khalil Garriott, NFL.com Senior Editor

NEW YORK -- As the Miami Dolphins continue to await the results of Ted Wells' investigation, the head of the NFL Players Association said Thursday that there's been a "tremendous amount of cooperation" between the league and the union about the situation.

"We've had full cooperation with virtually everyone involved in the matter," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, adding that Jonathan Martin and his lawyers didn't want to be interviewed by the union.

Speaking at the union's annual news conference during Super Bowl week, Smith said the union's investigation of workplace safety, which is separate from Wells' investigation, should conclude within the "next few weeks."

Smith said, "I look forward to talking with (NFL Commissioner) Roger (Goodell) when that investigation is done. Our findings about that workplace and what we recommend will become public. (But) I don't think that any good is being served when either side plays this publicly. We have an expectation about how our young men should conduct themselves in the business of football."

Smith was asked about myriad other topics, including the possibility of playoff expansion and a reduction in preseason games. Smith said he hasn't seen an NFL proposal for either, adding "we never comment about a speculative proposal that might come from the league."

He continued, "I think it's important to simply embrace that we're trying to keep our players safe. Any decision that we make should be grounded in what we know, not what we think."

Regarding possible implementation of HGH testing in the NFL, Smith cited the need for neutral arbitrators, who in his view "make our system better." Smith said disagreements over the use of neutral arbitrators continue to delay HGH testing progress.

The union boss said he wants outstanding drug policy issues resolved "soon." He discussed the idea of medical marijuana being allowed in the NFL, saying the union has had "preliminary discussions," but its focus hasn't been on one-off policies like medical marijuana.

"As head of this union, I can tell you there will never be a day when our union is satisfied with where we are," said Smith, who at one point referred to the collective-bargaining process as "brutal, ugly and messy." Still, he said, "I honestly believe that what we have bargained is the gold standard of drug policies."

Commenting on reports that Josh Freeman's medical information was leaked while he was a quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith told the media that the union is almost done with its interviews and will be wrapping up its investigation into that matter "fairly quickly."

The NFLPA also announced a partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which will open next year. The partnership will include four autographed jerseys from players in the Super Bowl -- Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks, and Champ Bailey and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos -- will be given to the museum.

"These jerseys and our collaboration will help make this museum even more exciting to sports fans ... when it opens," director Lonnie Bunch said.

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