ABCs of HGH: Why no deal yet?
Because we know this stuff is starting to make your eyes glaze over, here’s the most simplistic breakdown of where the NFL and NFL Players Association are when it comes to HGH testing:
* The NFL believes it has made every concession the NFLPA has requested. That includes neutral arbitration for those who test positive and a population study that will determine what should be considered the normal level of HGH in an NFL player’s body.
* The NFLPA believes it hasn’t gotten enough because it wants just two more concessions. They are Commissioner Roger Goodell’s giving up the power to hear appeals in cases where there’s proof of a performance-enhancing violation without a positive test, and also where there is a legal issue, such as A-Rod and the Biogenesis case.
* The NFL said it’s not going to cede on that last issue because that was already negotiated as part of the collective-bargaining agreement in 2011 and is not an HGH-specific issue.
Oh, and the two sides took shots at each other publicly via strongly worded statements Thursday, with the NFL accusing the NFLPA of "buyer’s remorse" on the CBA and the union countering by posting a screen shot of the blank signature space reserved for Goodell on the population-study agreement.
With nine days left in a preseason that was supposed to include the start of the population study, they’re basically doing the collective-bargaining equivalent of flicking each others’ ears instead of resolving the remaining issues.
"There is not one day in the last four years we have ever told them anything other than we will not cede the commissioner’s authority in this respect," Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior VP of law and labor study, told FOX Sports.
"We have now conceded and agreed to a population study. We have conceded and agreed to third-party arbitration. We’ve now conceded and agreed to the expanding and changing list of appeals procedures and demands they’ve had.
"If you look at the degree in nature of the concessions we’ve made, it is impossible to say the NFL is holding up the deal. That is not a fair reading by any factual standard."
Birch was asked if the NFL won’t sign off on the final agreement for the population study until the agreement on overall testing is in place. He didn’t answer directly but gave the impression that’s the case.
"I have said that we believe a full resolution is important," Birch said, "and that’s what we’re focused on."
Birch has said he believes the population study itself is a stall tactic. It now seems he believes it’s being deflected from the main issue, which is the overall agreement on testing.
Birch believes the NFL has made all of the concessions during negotiations.
"I don’t believe we have. That’s true," he said with a laugh. "I can run off 10 or 12 to you and I guarantee you it’d be hard-pressed for the other side to rattle off the concessions it has made."
With the clock ticking, the odds of having HGH testing in the NFL for the start of the 2013 season are dwindling.
And clearly, the NFL is getting impatient.
"We’re headed into the third year of this (CBA), the 26th month now. We need to resolve these issues," Birch said. "And this piecemeal approach is doing a disservice to everyone involved. We need to resolve the issue. … The implementation of testing is important. It does not do a service to the fans, the players, the public or anyone to sort of kick the can down the road for another season.
"We need to resolve the issue."