Should the NFLPA be trusted on HGH testing?

I know. The entire concept is a joke, considering that the NFLPA is also against mandatory knee pads. In many ways, the NFLPA is the NFL’s best asset when you consider the avalanche of lawsuits piling up over concussions and other injuries.

The latest tidbit from the NFLPA has it endorsing HGH testing as long as it’s “safe and fare.” Of course they’ll be willing to debate what’s safe and fair for the next 20 years.

While we’re on the subject, is there any doubt that practically every NFL player, including kickers, is on this stuff?

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Are the owners using blood testing as a bargaining chip?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell leaves a federal courthouse after participating in court-ordered talks regarding labor and revenue issues between the NFL and the NFL Players Association in Minneapolis, April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL CRIME LAW BUSINESS)

The New York Times is reporting that the NFL has talked to the World Anti-Doping Agency about possibly overseeing testing of players for performance-enhancing drugs if a federal appeals court forces the league to end the lockout.

That could even eventually include blood tests for human growth hormone, which have never been administered to N.F.L. players but which the league has in recent years said it wants to include in the next collective bargaining agreement, the official said.

The N.F.L. and the players union have resisted third-party administration of drug testing, the protocol and penalties of which were negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement.

But without an agreement in place, and with the decertified union unable to negotiate on behalf of players, the N.F.L. would be able to unilaterally impose a drug-testing program and penalties — much as it could impose rules related to the salary cap and free agency — although it could be subject to challenge by players in court. But the N.F.L. contends that without a union to provide checks and balances, a third party overseeing the program may be necessary for credibility and transparency.

Does anyone else get the sense that the NFL is trying to use blood testing (which the players have been adamantly opposed to for years) as a bargaining chip for if/when they lose in court and the lockout is lifted?

“Hi players…yes, that was a nice victory in court. Well played – you got us. Just to let you know though: WADA will be testing everyone’s blood for HGH from here on out…What’s that? Sure, we’d love to return to the bargaining tables and hammer something out. Great suggestion – we hadn’t thought of that.”

Of course, Roger Goodell has been trying to beef up the league’s testing policy for a while, so it may be a tad extreme to suggest that the owners are using WADA as a negotiating tactic. I truly believe that Goodell does want to ensure that the game is clean, so it’s not a stretch to think that blood testing has nothing to do with the labor dispute.

Still, the owners and players are in a battle and I wouldn’t put it past either side to use what they have in terms of bargaining chips. And if the players truly loathe the idea of blood testing, then it’s in the owners’ best interest to use that to their advantage.

NFL will insist on HGH testing of players

Ticket windows at Qualcomm Stadium , the home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, is shown in San Diego, California March 15, 2011. The antitrust suit filed by NFL players against the league will be heard on April 6 in a federal court in Minnesota, according to court documents released on Monday. The hearing is to be heard by Judge Susan Nelson with the players asking for an injunction against the lockout declared by the NFL on Saturday. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Former Lions’ linebacker Richard “Dirt” Jordan (a friend of mine whom I also worked with at WDFN in Detroit) once told me that players can’t even take cold medicine without first running it by a team doctor. So I find it a little silly that the NFL hasn’t been testing players for HGH use over the last couple of years.

Cold medicine = check with team.

HGH = have at it, hoss. Oh, but it’s frowned upon.

But that will all change if the NFL has anything to say about it. According to a report by, the league is insistent upon there being HGH testing in the next CBA. Under the late Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA has expressed resistance to blood testing and no urine test has been developed for HGH, so this report should go over well with the players and do wonders for the current labor dispute. (See you in 2012, fans.)

“We want it. We think it’s necessary,” Adolpho Birch, who runs the league’s drug-testing policies, told Marvez. “We’re going to ensure that it’s done. That’s something very important to us and the integrity of our game. We believe some of the basis for going slowly on it before has been addressed. At this point, it’s proper for it to be an active part of our program.”

Funny how the league is so concerned about the integrity of the game, yet the players are locked out and are free to do whatever they want when it comes to supplementing this offseason. As long as they properly cycle out whatever substance they’re putting into their bodies before the lockout ends and the league starts testing them again, they’re fine. (Look at me sounding like your neighborhood steroid distributor – you like that?)

If HGH testing is so important to the NFL, does it know that players aren’t being tested now? If HGH testing is so important to the NFL, why doesn’t it convince the owners to end the lockout and get back to the negotiating table so that there’s a season next year?

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