The NFL is "increasingly likely to move to a 'draft' format for the Pro Bowl ... and held more internal meetings on the topic this week," according to sources cited by Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. League officials had "lengthy talks this week" at the league HQs in N.Y. "putting together more details for the Pro Bowl with things continuing to point to a format where selected players are drafted on teams, very likely on a primetime, televised selection show." There are "no dissenting voices and league officials met this week to add to the skeleton they have in place for the format change, though more work must be done." Sources said that the NFL hopes to "have all logistics sorted out shortly after the upcoming draft ... and it may not need to come before an ownership vote, with the league and NFLPA already in unison on this for the most part." Decisions on when the draft would "take place, where it would take place, how to coordinate all of the remote parties involved are still being sorted out" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/4).
NOTHING TO SEE HERE: NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that the league's "investigation of the questions asked of players during the team-by-team interviewing process at the NFL scouting combine in February has yielded no specific evidence of any violations." Aiello: "Our review has not established any specific violations, but we have made it clear to our clubs what is acceptable when interviewing potential players and other job candidates." But in DC, Mark Maske cited a source as saying that the league is "leaving open the possibility of taking action in the future if information is found that a violation occurred" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/4).
REALITY CHECK: In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter noted NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "took umbrage" with comments made by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) about HGH testing on Thursday. Cummings said that NFLers could be "called to Capitol Hill for a hearing within three months if the stalemate between the league and NFLPA continued to delay an implementation of a testing program." Smith said, "The realities of it is, when there is the courage from the congressmen to have hearings on things that truly matter like work place safety in the National Football League, or if whether the National Football League should continue to have its non-profit status or whether issues of workmen’s compensation or fair healthcare for our players, when the head of the government oversight committee wants to have hearings on those issues, we’ll be there. We’ll also be there, if and when he wants to have a hearing on HGH." He added, "The collective bargaining agreement means that both sides have to come to an agreement. And, neither the league, nor anyone else will bully us into a testing regimen that isn’t fair" (AJC.com, 4/4). ESPN's Mike Wilbon said of the NFL adding cameras to home teams' locker rooms, "After years of acting like they were doing you a favor by letting you attend their games, the NFL is now going to great lengths to enhance the fan experience inside those very stadiums." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said there is a "sizable amount of people who like to go to the games and think this is going to help. It's criminal that home teams stopped showing replays of very important plays that might go against them. It's good that the league has mandated this" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/4). ESPN's Marcellus Wiley: "We shouldn't show how these normal men turn into gladiators inside that locker room and to me, that locker room is sacred." Wiley said, "There is a responsibility of the NFL. I know they want to make the ... field experience more of an attraction, but not at the expense of the players and their freedom" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/4).