Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are back at the negotiating table this offseason. (Credit: AP Photo)
For years on end now the NFL has found itself in the middle of some sticky negotiations. In 2011, a lockout of the NFL Players Association lasted until late July before the season was saved. This past year, the NFL Referees’ Association was locked out for four weeks of regular season games, causing mayhem about calls that shifted games.
Now, we have the ongoing saga of HGH testing and waiting until it is implemented in pro football. Yahoo Sports’ Michael Silver reports that talks are progressing and that the two sides are “closing in on a deal to implement the program in advance of the 2013 season”. Negotiating a deal under which NFL players could be tested for HGH was a priority for commissioner Roger Goodell following the 2011 lockout.
Still, don’t be so naive as to believe that this deal will get done quickly. There’s still six months until the kickoff of the 2013 season, and expect both the NFL and NFLPA to use as much of that time as necessary to hammer out this agreement. NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is committed to getting the players a fair deal and is not going to budge on his key points in order to expedite the process.
“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,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday. “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.”
League spokesperson Greg Aiello echoed Smith’s sentiment of open negotiations.
“There are no true differences here, only manufactured ones,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday. “We fully share the union’s belief in reliable, scientifically-valid testing. That is why we want to use the same test used in baseball, basketball, hockey, the Olympic games, and every other sport in which HGH testing takes place.”
Among the key points of contention still to be settled are the timing of when the HGH tests will be conducted and the notion of bringing in third-party arbitration for alcohol and other drug-related cases.
As much as the NFL has taken its share of public relations damage between the lockouts and the bounty scandal, don’t expect them to soften their stance in the slightest. A deal may be close at this point in time, but it doesn’t take very long for negotiations to go sour.
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