Hearings are going to start today in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is scheduled to testify and the league is going to ask Congress to enact legislation that would uphold the NFL's ability to give the steroid and anti-doping testing policy the ability to override state court rulings.
The primary reason for the subcommittee to convene its hearing has been the inability of the NFL to enforce its four-game suspensions of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. The case has been working its way through the courts and the NFL has consistently lost in respect to the Williamses' claim that the collectively-bargained policy violates Minnesota state Workplace Act laws.
In his written testimony submitted prior to today's hearing, Goodell said, "We believe that a specific and tailored amendment top the Labor-Management Relations Act is appropriate and necessary to protect collectively-bargained steroid policies from attack under state law. Our view is supported by the other major professional sports leagues, as well as the United States Anti-Doping Agency. A narrow and targeted amendment would preserve the rights of sports leagues and their player associations to negotiate and administer effective anti-drug and steroid programs."
In addition to Goodell, NFL Players Association Director DeMaurice Smith is also expected to testify today. In his written testimony, Smith said that the union and the NFL can address the issues through its own collective bargaining process.
"We believe that the most effective way to ensure that our collectively-bargained policy does not conflict with any state law is for the league and our union to draft carefully-crafted language in the new CBA that reflects our acute awareness to these issues," Smith said. "We are confident that we can effectively work through the collective bargaining process with the league to implement changes that will better protect our players, ensure the uniform application of the drug testing policy and strengthen the integrity of that policy."
It is not expected that either Pat or Kevin Williams will be testifying at the hearing.