SBD/September 9, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL, Union At Odds Over Who Should Assume Appeal Power In HGH Cases

Smith told players that the union will participate in the NFL's field inspections
Lawyers for the NFL and NFLPA "met again last week to try to hash out" the issue of implementing HGH testing, according to sources cited by Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. The NFLPA "does not appear willing to relent on the contention that an outside arbitrator, and not the commissioner, should assume appeal power over cases where there is not a positive test but there may be evidence to suggest a player was involved in using PEDs." That scenario would be similar to what MLB "has been dealing with on the Biogenesis cases." Sources said that it "remains the only hang-up preventing a bevy of other agreed upon changes to become official." Sources added that the sides "agree to increased penalties for players found guilty of alcohol-related crimes like drunk driving." Adderall also is "being moved from being classified as a 'performance-enhancing drug' to a 'substance of abuse,' which would result in lesser penalties, overall." Furthermore, once the sides finally start HGH testing "all appeals for positive drug tests would be done by neutral parties and no longer overseen by the league." But "without both sides signing the binding agreement on HGH testing, none of that comes into play" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/8). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported the NFL and NFLPA have "agreed to conduct a population study, agreed on the procedure for drawing blood, negotiated discipline for positive tests, and agreed that positive tests for all PED violations will be subject to third-party arbitration." Short of giving Commissioner Roger Goodell the "ability to make the initial decision with a third-party having the ability to review it based on a standard that gives the Commissioner’s ruling some deference, it’s hard to find a middle ground on this one" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 9/8).

FIELD STUDY: In DC, Mark Maske reported NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "told players in a memo sent electronically to them Saturday that the union will participate in the field inspections conducted by the league." Smith in the memo wrote, “Given some of the issues that we witnessed with respect to unsafe field conditions last year, an NFLPA field inspector will attend and observe NFL conducted field testing sessions to ensure the playing surface is as safe as possible.” Smith also reminded players "about a new provision to have independent medical experts on the sideline at NFL games to assist in identifying potential concussions suffered by players" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/8). FOXSPORTS.com's Mike Garafolo noted there will "be one field inspector for the union." The inspector will "coordinate with the league and teams on which field or fields he will monitor each week." Smith in the e-mail to players wrote about "the importance of stressing 'workplace safety'" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/8).

A new NFL bag policy requires finding the
balance between convenience and saftey
IT'S IN THE BAG: CBSSN’s Amy Trask discussed the NFL’s clear-bag policy and said, “Is it convenient to bring your things to the game in a plastic bag? No. Would it be for all of us if we could carry our own water bottles through security at the airport? Yes. But you know what, we need to balance convenience with safety and security." She added, “I don’t mean to make light of this. It certainly isn’t the most convenient situation for someone to have to carry their belongings in a plastic bag. But we live in an era where safety and security matter” (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 9/8). In New Orleans, Rachel Whittaker reported Saints fans “were all clear” yesterday regarding the new bag policy, “abiding by the rules for permissible bags and knowing the regulations designed to enhance game-day safety.” Mercedes-Benz Superdome security official Dewain Baldwin said that he “had no issues with people carrying impermissible bags into Champions Square, where security guards inspected fans' accessories before they got to the Superdome entrances” (NOLA.com, 9/8).

CONCUSSIONS STILL AN ISSUE: CBS' La Canfora reported while the NFL has settled the concussion lawsuit filed by former players, league execs likely cannot "say they've put the issue behind them." La Canfora said, "People say football is a collision sport and it is. It may also be a concussion sport. These guys are so big, so fast, so strong and the gridiron hasn't changed." He noted there is the "possibility for future lawsuits." La Canfora: "We'll have to see. The league is trying to legislate it out of the game with rule changes, tweaking some things" ("CBS This Morning," 9/7).
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