George Atallah on NFL player safety: 'There's more to do'

Scott Halleran

The NFLPA's George Atallah sat down for an AMA with Reddit on Thursday afternoon, and was candid about the union's stance on player safety and HGH testing.

George Atallah sat down for a candid Reddit AMA on Thursday afternoon to discuss everything from whether he likes hummus ("duh"), to more substantial matters like NFL player safety and HGH testing. When the NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs was asked what he thinks is the biggest issue facing the players' union today, he made it clear that more needs to be done so that players can continue to have long careers:

It's really amazing how far we've come in recent years both as a union and league, but there's more to do. I know that players are more aware than they've ever been on this issue and it all ties together: workers compensation, concussions, medical care, prescription drugs, drug testing, equipment, field conditions and the list goes on.

Atallah stopped short of passing blame, however, saying that he believes the NFL is doing everything it can to keep players safe. The collective bargaining agreement put measures in place to ensure that the league would do its diligence, and Atallah said that the NFLPA is working closely with the NFL Referees Association to make sure that rules are enforced consistently.

Atallah was also asked why the NFLPA opposed HGH testing. In response, he said that the players' union actually supports testing, but only if their rights are respected:

Our motivation is actually to have an hGH test. Players want testing. They also want a fair system in place. I know that, right now, the proposals the players have received from the NFL do not include the same rights as say, MLB does.

More highlights:

Atallah on how to handle player DUIs:

The truth is I don't know. I know that the NFL thinks they would be more effective. We can't always discipline, or punish, our way to a better or more effective behavior. That goes for on and off the field. Again, nobody wants to see that type of thing happen ever again. We have Player Transportation Link and other educational programs. Obviously, we all need to do more.

Atallah on regulating big hits:

We like 'Let Them Play.' We do represent every NFL player. 'Hits' are part of playing football. There are safer techniques that can be taught starting at the Pop Warner level. There are ways to make sure dangerous hits are eliminated from the pro level. But for anyone that has actually been to a game and seen players go full speed, it's hard to regulate some aspects of a collision sport.

Atallah on how the NFLPA will handle the first openly gay player:

I took a lot of heat, if anyone remembers, at the abuse dished out to Jonathan Vilma post-bounty on Twitter. Maybe I didn't express the tweet literally as best as I could, but there is no place for intolerance on any platform. Twitter is awesome, but it does lead to a fair level of stupidity and at times, hate. Specifically as it relates to the potential of an openly gay player, we would be ready to support.

Atallah on growing market share outside of the United States:

I think we can do more. I've been to NFL London three years now and it is a very cool event. I think we have to work together with the league to figure out what we want to do on this front. There are also health and safety considerations to consider.

And finally:

AndrewBrandt: Do you like girls?
GeorgeAtallahNFLPA: I knew this was coming...

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