The NFL will become the first professional sports league in North America to test its players for Human Growth Hormone, possibly making history next week.
Now the league needs to pull one last hopefully minor trick and convince the players that the test is reliable and safe.
Throughout the CBA negotiations that dragged on during the spring and summer, the introduction of HGH testing was sometimes a side show to the main circus, and often it was moved to the main stage. Common sense dictated that both sides were opposed to HGH, but the contentious nature of the labor discussions made agreeing on lunch impossible, so finding common ground as it related to sticking needles in players was a monumental task.
Earlier today an agreement was reached, sort of. Commissioner Roger Goodell met with members of Congress and representatives of the players’ union and made a historic, important-sounding announcement while wearing a really nice suit.
Rich and important people tend to do this often, but just like when the owners announced a labor deal prematurely back in late July, there was one little detail left out of today’s political grin and grab: an actual agreement on how to conduct the HGH tests.
Confused? It kind of feels like the lockout again, doesn’t it. But this disagreement–if that word even applies here–isn’t nearly as deep-rooted. Here’s what union spokesman George Atallah said to Mike Freeman of CBS Sports, followed by Freeman’s explanation:
“We have an agreement to test for HGH,” union spokesman George Atallah told me, “what we don’t have an agreement on is the process and the protocol to implement the test.”
The union still wants answers on a number of issues related to what’s tested for and how that’s done. Those answers could come as soon as Monday or they could take weeks. Or the union, rightfully looking out for its players, could decide the testing system is unfair.
So they’re close, really close, but not as close as what some nice men in nice suits would have you believe, and a higher power (in this case, Congress) has told the two sides that someone’s gonna get a hurtin’ real bad if testing isn’t fully implemented in two weeks.