The NFL and NFLPA continue to negotiate on how human growth hormone tests should be conducted, but these discussions devolved to bickering Thursday, when the two sides took public shots at each other.
The use of a third-party arbitrator has become the latest sticking point. The players union wants power to be taken out of the hands of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the enforcement of HGH policy, giving it to an outside entity. NFL vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch issued a statement Thursday calling the union's demands "delay tactics," brought about by what the NFL refers to as "buyer's remorse" about the collective bargaining agreement signed by both sides in 2011. That agreement kept Goodell as the sole disciplinary authority in the league, which has been a contentious issue in regard to player suspensions.
In a response this afternoon, the NFLPA issued a short statement, which challenged the NFL's claim it was delaying proceedings, and asked the league to sign an agreement immediately that would begin blood testing -- but install a third-party arbitrator.
"The only case of buyer's remorse is the attached letter that the NFL agreed to weeks ago. Our signature is on it. Sign it, like you agreed to, and we start drawing blood from players immediately. Your refusal to sign it confirms that the only thing you care about is power."
A population sample of NFL players -- to establish a threshold level among players -- needs to be completed in nine days, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network. Testing players would begin in Week 1 of the regular season under the current deal.
Birch told USA Today that another delay in implementing the testing program could force Congress to get involved.
Both sides are engaging in the same public posturing shown during CBA negotiations two years ago. The league wants Goodell to be the sole arbitrator on all conduct issues, while players have voiced their displeasure at the system and the union is trying to remove some of the commissioner's authority. These latest statements won't help the rapid installation of an HGH program.