After down to the wire negotiations once again, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed on the terms of a CBA which must be ratified by the players for the agreement to be finalized. The ratification process by the players will take place throughout the day.
“All the players have to sign off on it,” said Robbie Gould, the player rep for the Bears in an interview with ESPN. Player Reps are holding team by team meetings so each player group can vote. ”The vote shouldn’t really take that long. It’s just going to be just a matter of informing everybody what it is, and if they like it or don’t like it.”
Tough issues in the negotiations included player conduct policy and disciplinary process, and drug testing for human growth hormone.
Players desire a drug-free sport and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has taken a position against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, saying they have no place in the NFL.
Currently no U.S. professional sports league tests its players for HGH. HGH typically requires blood testing, whereas the other substances that violate the league’s drug policy are detected by urine testing.
Former Pro Bowler and NFLPA Executive Committee member Sean Morey said earlier today, “Players are committed to upholding the integrity, fairness and health and safety of our game to the highest possible standards. At the same time, we care about the fairness of any testing program, the reliability of it and the safety and security of the procedure.”
Steelers’ Ryan Clark said yesterday in regards to the disciplinary policy “A big issue, for us, especially, as a team, is Roger Goodell… being judge, jury and appeals system.”
Goodell’s view is diametrically opposed to Clark’s position. When asked if he’d be willing to permit an external body to review his decisions, Goodell said, “The answer to that is no, I’m not going to be open to that. I’m not going to hand off the brand and the reputation of the NFL to somebody who is not associated with the NFL.”
The sides met Wednesday night until the early hours of Thursday morning, and reconvened again Thursday after a few hours break. Until the CBA is ratified by the players, free agents who signed new contracts last week will not be allowed to practice with their teams. The new league season is scheduled to start at 4:01pm today.