The NFL and NFL Players Association signed off on a 10-year labor agreement in July 2011, but conflict between the two sides continues, to the point at which the union president ripped the NFL on several issues Tuesday and a league spokesman countered with charges that union officials are repeatedly preventing progress on several fronts.
NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, speaking to reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, said that there remains a deep distrust among players about commissioner Roger Goodell, especially concerning his handling of the Saints' bounty scandal. Foxworth also said that players are willing to agree to an HGH testing program, but that the league refuses to allow for an appeals process, a charge the NFL flatly denies.
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"If [players] don't trust anyone on Park Avenue, it's hard to get anything done," Foxworth said. "If I wanted to get them to trust Roger, I couldn't."
Foxworth said players believe Goodell was too heavy-handed in issuing discipline in the bounty scandal. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue subsequently vacated all player discipline in the case, but backed Goodell's contention that the Saints ran a bounty program that was in clear violation of NFL policies. Tagliabue said he ended the sanctions to avoid further court actions. Foxworth said "some neutral arbitration in some areas would go a long way."
Foxworth also said the league won't provide an appeals mechanism for HGH testing. The two sides agreed to HGH testing as part of the CBA, but continued disagreements about how the tests will be implemented have stalled the program.
Foxworth said Tuesday that the players are willing to be tested, but they won't agree to a program because there is no appeals process.
"It's about appeal rights," Foxworth said. "They want us to accept HGH testing that doesn't afford our players a chance to appeal."
NFL vice president of communications Greg Aiello said on Twitter of Foxworth's statement: "Not true + he knows it."
Aiello released a statement later in the afternoon blasting the union.
"Since 2011, the union has spent most of its time backing away from its commitments," he said. "Whether on old litigation, HGH, or commissioner discipline, the NFLPA has consistently looked backward. Trust is a two-way street. If the union wants to work together to build a better, safer and even more popular game, we extend our hand in partnership and respect. If the union wants to stir up old grievances and create mistrust, we will simply have to do the best we can to serve the interests of the fans, players and the game."