SBD/May 2, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

As NFL, NFLPA Remain In HGH Stalemate, One Player Estimates 25% Of League Uses It

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The NFL and NFLPA "continue to trade barbs" regarding HGH testing in the league, but the "rhetoric from both sides hasn't changed," according to Tyler Dunne of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The two parties "agreed that HGH testing was needed" when the lockout ended in '11. But two years later, the problem "still has not been addressed." The NFLPA "claims it wants a fair process," and the NFL has "yet to do much beyond tough talk." In the meantime, one unnamed NFC player said that HGH use is "rampant" in the league, estimating that 10-15 players on each team used it. Dunne wrote the league's popularity "could take a hit" if HGH testing is "instituted and stars begin to test positive." That could create the perception HGH testing is being stalled because "neither side wants skeletons out of the closet." If 25% of NFL players are "truly taking HGH, the NFL could be tip-toeing around a public relations nightmare." ESPN analyst Darren Woodson, who played 12 years in the NFL said, "Does Roger Goodell want the league to have a black eye? Hell no. He doesn't want to go through the same thing baseball just went through" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/1). ESPN's Marcellus Wiley, who played 10 years in the league, said the NFL brand "doesn’t need to take any more hits at this present time." Wiley: "‘The Shield’ needs to be shielded from ... anonymous sources saying things like this. But this is a part of the underbelly of the NFL, the subculture of the NFL." He said the estimate of 10-15 players per team using HGH "may sound alarming, but it may be a fact because guys are doing it” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 5/1).

A MATTER OF TRUST: ESPN's John Clayton reported “trust from the players” has been the main obstacle to implementing HGH testing. Clayton: “Going into a venture where you’re going to have blood testing, which is a very bold type of transition, they just don’t feel comfortable yet with the process." The CBA calls for testing as long as both the league and union "could agree on the process." The NFLPA is "not happy right now with the current population study information." Players want more information, and "until they feel comfortable, they’re not totally willing to agree to it.” There “may be pressure" from Congress, other players, the league and Goodell to implement a testing program, “but until they feel comfortable, they’re not giving their blood over for those tests” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 5/1). CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb said, “The right thing for the NFL to do is to let WADA or USADA in as a third party so it kind of cuts them out of it” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 5/1).

LATEST ATTACK ON PLAYER SAFETY: ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the NFL "need to test for HGH" in part because Goodell has based his tenure as commissioner "on player safety." Kornheiser: "You can't tell me that artificially-induced, bigger, stronger, faster players are good for player safety. If you're worried that repeated hits to the head cause brain injuries, then you can't have repeated harder hits to the head because players are on HGH." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "If the NFL is going to hang its hat on player safety, you can't just do it on concussions. Even this would contribute to more concussions and more severe concussions when you're talking about impact on the playing field” ("PTI," ESPN, 5/1). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said, “If the NFL wants them to be safer, wants less concussions, all of this, they can’t promote human growth hormones. They have to start testing" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 5/1).
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