In 2006, Gene Upshaw former NFLPA Executive Director and All-Pro Offensive Guard, famously dismissed the possibility of having blood draws to test NFL players for human growth hormone (HGH). He stated publically that as the head of the NFL players’ union he was not ready to turn NFL players into human “pin cushions.” Gene Upshaw hated the idea of players subjecting themselves to blood test, never backing off, even while a fairly progressive steroid-testing policy was put in place on his watch. By and large, his players respected the line Upshaw drew on this subject.
What a difference five years can make. Last week the NFL Owners and the players ratified a new, 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement that will allow the NFL to become the first major U.S. professional sports league to use blood testing for human growth hormone. Players would be subject to random testing for HGH, in addition to annual checks.
Current NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith reversed the union’s position and “180ed” Gene Upshaw.
“It became clear to both of us that we believe in the integrity of the game, and we believe in engaging in any course of action to make sure that the game is clean,’’ Smith said. “If you wanted to look at a moment where I think we got something done, it was coming up with solutions to get something done rather than identifying problems.”
The real story however, the player testing for HGH can only occur after the union signs off on the way the testing is conducted and a proper appeals process is implemented. So basically, like the US Congress, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to something that means absolutely nothing. Both sides have stated that it is the goal to have the testing process implemented by week one of the upcoming season – but do you really think these two sides will agree on the details of the testing procedure within the next three weeks?