NFLPA Exec Dir Smith Gets Heat For Players Being Punished For Conduct During Lockout
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith is “again facing scrutiny as a result of player punishments that may be handed out for irresponsible or illegal conduct during the lockout this offseason,” according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources said that 10 players are "facing fines from the league for violating the substance abuse policy by testing positive for recreational drugs.” NFLPA team reps said that Smith “made promises that there would be a ‘grace period’ for players after an agreement was reached” with the owners over a new CBA in late July. One player rep said, “I told De that this was a concern of a number of players after the lockout ended and he said, ‘I got you covered.’” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello confirmed that Smith and the union have “discontinued a program known as the player advisory council.” Aiello: “De Smith was not interested in continuing it as a joint program. Troy Vincent heads up our Player Engagement initiative and is in regular contract with current and former players.” But Cole noted the player reps were “concerned about that dissolving of the advisory council.” One player reps said, “You’d think we’d want to have direct contact with [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell]. I don’t understand the move at all. We’ll see what De has to say” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/11). ESPN’s Adam Schefter cited a source as saying that Smith “led players to believe there would be a grace period for drug-testing following the lockout, yet according to the same source the NFLPA never asked for one.” Two of the players involved are Redskins TE Fred Davis and OT Trent Williams (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 11/13).
STALL TACTICS: CBS’ Charley Casserly reported NFL officials “sent a memo to all 32 clubs this week saying that they did not find” the latest HGH testing proposal “acceptable.” One of the league’s “biggest problems” with the proposal is that the NFLPA "wanted testing to be done in the off-season and preseason, not during the season.” Casserly noted DC lawmakers are “going to go forward on their course to begin inquiries in the future.” Lawmakers also said that there are “scientists who severely questioned whether you could establish a test standard of current NFL players because how many of these players have tainted samples that you'd be looking at” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/13). USA TODAY’s Tom Pedulla notes Goodell yesterday “repeatedly urged players to allow” testing for HGH to begin. Goodell said of the union, "They've run out of questions. All of the answers have been given. It's time to start testing. It's what we agreed to, and what we expect to do." Goodell had met with “approximately 100 local athletes to discuss the league's effort to promote safety in all sports.” He noted the “possibility of Congressional intervention” if testing is not implemented. Goodell: "They have been very clear that, if it is not done, they would hold hearings" (USA TODAY, 11/14).
GUIDING LIGHT: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft was profiled last night on NBC’s “Nightly News” ahead of the Patriots-Jets “SNF” game, and NBC’s Lester Holt called Kraft the “guiding force” in getting a new NFL CBA this summer. Kraft's wife Myra died of cancer in July, and “during some of the most difficult days of his life (he) was determined that there would be football.” Holt said, “You won't find a prouder NFL owner or one more passionate about the game or his team, and so when the labor dispute between players and owners threatened the season, New England Patriots boss Robert Kraft knew both sides would have to change the tone.” Kraft: “We found a way to break into a smaller group where there was less noise, and get away from the intense rhetoric.” Holt said to Kraft, “You wanted to get into the room, just mano a mano.” Kraft replied, “We listened to one another and we responded.” Kraft said the negotiations and the personal trauma he was suffering made it a “difficult period in my life” and the hug he received from Colts C Jeff Saturday after the deal was reached “was special” ("Nightly News," NBC, 11/13).