SBD/July 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Introduces Legends Program To Help Connect Teams To Retired Players

The NFL this week introduced its “Legends Program” in which former players brought together by the league will “act as ambassadors for other retired players," according to NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes. The players selected for the program "will spend their three-year term working to connect each of the 32 teams with the larger network of retired players.” The goal is to “enrich not only the game, but also those who play it." NFL Senior VP/Player Engagement Troy Vincent: "We shared a responsibility for one another for healthy lifestyles as we transition out of the game. It's a brotherhood. … We want to be advocates. We want to be active contributors in developing our game, protecting our brand and developing our future. Our 'legends' allow us to do that" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 7/23). FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez reported the initiative is "designed to change the 'out of sight/out of mind' reality that many players face once their football careers end." The program will include "bolstered outreach to NFL alumni for team and league initiatives like homecoming festivities, community events and the 'Heads Up Football' initiative with USA Football that was created to teach proper tackling techniques to youth players." The Legends Program also serves as "another avenue for the league to better assist ex-players who are experiencing difficulties adjusting to their post-football lives as the spotlight fades away." The program should help "fill in some of the gaps created by the demise of the NFL Alumni Association under former president George Martin." Vincent said that the NFL will "try to foster stronger working relationships with the NFLAA chapters that are already established in most NFL cities" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/21).

HGH TEST CLOSER: NFL.com's Breer & Kremer reported the NFL and NFLPA today are holding an "important negotiating session" to "continue their work toward an agreement" on implementation of HGH testing. There are "three categories" of key issues: procedural, economic and due process/appeals. Also, "it needs to be discussed who will foot the bill" for each $2,200 HGH testing kit (NFL.com, 7/23). SI's Jim Trotter noted an agreement "could be done by the end of the week." The tests "cannot be retroactive, meaning that blood is going to be used for the population study." However, if players "test positive, you can’t go back now and discipline them” ("Rome," CBS Sports Network, 7/23). Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez said he did not believe steroids were prevalent in the NFL, but HGH might be different "because you cannot test for it." Gonzalez said if HGH testing was instituted, "you would probably find some people out there that are actually using it." Former NFLer Tony Mandarich said steroids "are really a non-issue in the NFL right now, and for years they've been a non-issue because they've done such a good job testing it." Mandarich: "Your next issue is the growth hormone" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 7/23).
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