Who Really Wants Blood Testing?

Charlie Bernstein looks at the sudden re-emergence of blood-testing as an issue between the players and NFL owners. Will this help or hurt the NFL?

The latest artillery fired in the ever-growing contentious relationship between the NFL owners and the players association is the idea of blood testing, in the hopes of testing for HGH. 

"Our position is that HGH testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "We have proposed it to the union."

On the surface, this request by the NFL owners seems like a good-natured effort to help rid the game of otherwise undetectable performance enhancing drugs.  The league is showing that they truly want their athletes to set the best possible example for today's youth, as well as protect their players from the harmful long-term effects of these illegal drugs.

Sounds like an amiable show of good faith, right?


The NFL owners know without any reservation that the players association will fight this particular type of testing as if their actual lives are at stake.

"At this point, there's no reason to believe that blood-testing for NFL players will or should be implemented," George Atallah, union assistant executive director of external affairs, told The New York Post. "We should instead focus on preserving the drug-testing policy that we have in place."

The mere mention of blood testing combined with any type of resistance places undeniable guilt on the players association in the all-important court of public opinion. 

"It's a no-win situation for us," a high-ranking NFLPA official said. 

The simple acknowledgement of blood testing gives the owners a heroic view in the eyes of many fans, which is especially important with the impending labor strife looming.  This also gives the owners one more bargaining chip in the negotiation process.

We know the players association's stance on blood testing, but do the owners really want it?  The not-so-simple answer is no. 

With the National Football League reaching new heights in popularity with each passing season, why would they want to potentially affect that adoration by expanding on their drug program which the NFL fans believe is legitimate? 

The NFL has a handful of performance enhancing drug suspensions each year which is just enough to convince the ticket buying public that their policy is legitimate and effective.  And let's face it, the perception of the usage of steroids and other sorts of PED's are more widely accepted in the NFL because the players are "warriors" and the game is better as the athletes get bigger, stronger and faster. 

If the league testing policy involved just a slight prick on the finger for HGH, what if the results showed that more than just one or two percent of the players were cheating?  What if the results displayed that half of league was beguiling the system?  What if it was more than that?

Major League Baseball is known as the renegade pill-popping, needle-poking sport in which fans, media and former players speculate that 50, 60 or 70 percent of the athletes are guilty.  What if we had evidence that America's passion, the beloved National Football League was on par with the amount of cheaters as the "evil alliance" known as MLB?

The players who are indeed cheating don't want that.  The players that are clean don't want the potential harmed reputation of their league that pays them so handsomely.  The fans don't want to know, instead they like to cheer the big hits and amazing catches. 

Owners, do you really want to open up this can of worms?  I don't think so. 


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