The NFL and NFL Players Association are continuing to move toward a deal that would implement a system to test for human growth hormone during the 2013 season, although the two sides are still ironing out the details of the agreement.
Yahoo Sports’ Michael Silver reported on the latest developments in the negotiations, and he quotes NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith as saying the following:
The long and short of it is, we're not going to agree to a system that doesn't give the player full due-process rights on HGH. That's where we started, and that's where we'll end up. We believe in collective bargaining. The fact that the league would rather force us to accept something that's not fair, rather than bargaining for it, is worrisome.
Silver believes that the NFLPA is concerned about the amount of unchecked power commissioner Roger Goodell possesses over player discipline, and that the Saints bounty scandal is causing these worries. The report states that the players association is displeased with the amount of offenses in which Goodell independently decides on a ruling instead of a third-party arbitrator.
This issue does not relate directly to HGH testing, as Silver notes that the NFL has already allowed every player who tests positive for drugs to appeal to a neutral party.
The system to carry out HGH testing was hammered out in the most recent collective bargaining agreement in 2011, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello is quoted in Silver’s report as clarifying the league’s stance:
As to the appeals process, we offered — two years ago — to have all appeals of drug and steroid tests heard by third-party arbitrators. More recently, the union said it wanted the same appeal process used in the Major League Baseball program and we have offered to do exactly that.
The NFL is not the only party critical of the NFLPA’s feelings toward the appeals process, as U.S. Congressmen Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings have taken an interest in the issue. And according to Silver, the two government officials have doubts as to whether or not the union is truly reflecting the players' opinions on this issue.
The report states that Baltimore Ravens player rep Brendon Ayanbadejo has shown a willingness to testify before the congressmen and answer their questions.
The NFL is big business, and as a result, politics will always be a part of the league. Each side will continue trying to gain leverage in negotiations until an agreement is settled upon. When that will be is still entirely uncertain.