NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says progress has been made in reaching a deal with the players union that would allow for human-growth hormone testing of all players to begin.
Speaking two days before the New York Giants and New England Patriots meet in Sunday’s Super Bowl 46, Goodell said a meeting two weeks ago moved closer to implementing a testing provision in the new 10-year deal they signed last year.
“We made some progress,” he said. “We would like to implement it in the off-season. We have taken steps to address the union’s concerns. We expect to implement HGH testing.”
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said his group is not yet satisfied with the details of the program, something they must sign off upon before testing can begin.
“No-one will bully us into a test. No-one will force players to accept a test that is unfair,” Smith said on Thursday. “We’re going to fight to make sure due process is not thrown away for the sake of getting a test faster.”
Goodell told the NFL Network that each side might have to accept some things it does not like to achieve a deal, even as US lawmakers have pressed the union to agree to tests as a message to young fans and to sustain their own credibility.
“We’re all going to have to compromise a little bit. We have got to get this done,” Goodell said. “I don’t hear scientists saying the test is not valid. I hear lawyers saying that.”
Goodell said the league-owned cable network will show 13 night games next season, five more than this past season, as fewer games are offered over unpaid channels but that each team will be assured a night telecast in every season.
The September season-opener is shown on Thursday by a network partner, with NFL Network’s package of games on Thursdays set to run from weeks two through 15 of a season rather than start in November as it did last year.
A Spanish-language version of the NFL’s game-day channel that focuses on scoring plays will also be created for the 2012 season, Goodell said.
Regarding concussions and concerns of brain damage found in players long after they retire, Goodell said US military forces are using some of the information yielded by the NFL’s study of brain injuries.
“We’re going to pioneer research to make sure we understand all we can about brain injuries,” Goodell said. “It’s a serious issue.”
The 32-team league has no plans for expansion but is looking at competing plans for a proposed stadium in Los Angeles for an NFL club, Goodell said.
“We would like to be back in Los Angeles, if we can do it correctly,” he said.