Human growth hormone testing in the NFL is like a two-ton boulder being pushed up a hill. Every time it appears the boulder is about to reach the top, something happens to send it rolling back down.
The NFL and NFL Players Association came close to an agreement last month before hitting yet another disheartening snag. It seems possible, even probable, that the NFL could play another season without HGH testing.
It's a reality that sticks in the craw of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made player health and safety a major initiative of his tenure. Andrea Kremer, NFL Media's chief health and safety correspondent, asked Goodell on Wednesday about the hold-up.
"You know Andrea, I wish I could tell you. We have tried everything we can to compromise on a variety of issues," Goodell said. "We didn't believe a population study was necessarily the right course, but we agreed to do it to answer those questions. We have agreed to third-party arbitration. We have compromised on a lot of areas without compromising on the integrity of the program.
"We believe it's the right thing for the safety of the players. We believe it's the right thing for the game. We think it's the right thing to send a message to the youth, that this is out. It's time to get this done. We agreed to this in the collective bargaining agreement two years ago. We have worked to address all these issues, and we believe we've done that."
NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that the final remaining issue is Goodell's power over the appeals process. The league would like to maintain the commissioner's jurisdiction over cases involving the law and evidentiary cases. The NFLPA wants more voices in the room.
Kremer asked Goodell why it's so important that he retain power of discipline.
"That's a reputational issue. That now is something reflects on the NFL, the players and everybody involved in our game, including our fans," Goodell said. "And so we are not going to relent on the commissioner's discipline or the discipline to make sure that we do what's reputationally important for the NFL or hand that off to somebody else."
Goodell also hit on other relevant topics in his interview with Kremer:
» On the league's landmark concussion lawsuit settlement: "It was important for us to be able to get the help to players immediately, or as soon as possible. Because if we had litigated these issues, it probably would've been 10 or 12 years down the road. A lot of monies would've gone to attorneys."
» On Dustin Keller's knee injury and D.J. Swearinger's explanation why he went low on the tight end: "You're going to get hit in the knee, you're going (to get hit) in the head. That's why you have protective material. But we do not want that targeted. And we're not seeing that. We're not seeing an increase in injuries of low hits. So you use one example, but there's thousands of plays in a year, Andrea. To take one example is not appropriate."