There has been much controversy surrounding the NFL this offseason with most of it surrounding Bountygate but also much complaining from the players involved who believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has too much power to enforce discipline on players. Whether Goodell has been correct or not has become almost irrelevant as the consistent whining and complaining of the players and their numerous lawyers has brought the league and the Commissioner’s office in particular into disrepute.
When the NFLPA represented by DeMaurice Smith and the NFL represented by Goodell broke the lockout last year with a new 10 year CBA, commentators, players and officials alike had the majority opinion that the NFL won big in the negotiations. The powers Goodell possesses are one of the consequences of the poor negotiating of the NFLPA although the trade off was the money the players were able to receive and the enforcement of the “unofficial salary cap” that cost the Redskins and Cowboys much needed cap space but which was in fact a win for the NFLPA as it was a confession of sorts that NFL owners had acted inappropriately in enforcing a secret cap during the “uncapped” year.
Now there is a possibility that changes may be made to the powers that Goodell possesses which would be a form of vindication for both the union and players like Jonathan Vilma who have been so vocal against the Commissioner this offseason but there is a price – the players would have to accept the introduction of HGH testing to the NFL.
Bringing in HGH testing has been a goal of the NFL for some time now and while the players and NFLPA have supported the move they have opposed any introduction of a testing programme due to safety concerns. During the CBA negotiations last year HGH testing was one of the biggest stumbling blocks to talks and while there was agreement that HGH testing would be introduced, the immediacy of that action was eventually set aside by the NFL to achieve other goals and was largely blamed by the NFLPA for their defeat in the deal.
So what has changed? Today the Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to both the Commissioner and the NFLPA calling for the implementation of HGH testing in the 2012 NFL season – you can read the letter HERE. Here’s a small excerpt from the letter:
“It has been nearly one year since the National Football League and its Players Association ratified their collective bargaining accord August 4, 2011. At that time, we were especially encouraged that agreement had been reached on testing for human growth hormone (HGH). Like many in Congress, we believed such testing was overdue. We expected implementation prior to the start of the 2011 season, but that milestone came and went with the agreement unfulfilled.
“Without HGH testing, the performance enhancing drug provisions in your collective bargaining agreement will not be able to effectively deter the use of this drug. And this failure sends a terrible message to young athletes and fans that player safety and a level playing field are not priorities.”
The message is clear – Congress is prepared to get involved in a fight for HGH testing in the NFL and this is a fight the NFL wants no part of.
So to the players and their sympathizers, take heart – help against the “tyranny” of NFL Commissioner may be on the way soon. Perhaps not this season as we are a mere 40 days out from the resumption of hostilities that is the National Football League but in the near future we may see the NFL Commissioner lose some of that power that some feel he should never have had and has to this point overused and therefore abused.