It has been a few tough weeks in the NFL to start the 2014 season. The days have been filled with everyone from the average fan to lucrative sponsors like Anheuser Busch chastising the league. Last week alone, the NFL saw three high-profile players suspended due to violent acts against women or children.
All these aside, people still flood bars, stadiums or the comfort of their couches on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays to watch their favorite teams. Millions of people still waste countless hours researching about fantasy football.
Here lies the great hypocrisy of the NFL and the NFL fan. Despite all the shouting down of the league, very few people actually protest the league by not participating in the fandom. My Editor-in-Chief, Hau Chu, nailed this in his first letter of the semester.
Instead, I’ll harp on the most recent contributor to the NFL hypocrisy. Last week, the NFL passed their newest drug policy after weeks of negotiation with the players union. Most NFL fans focused on the relaxing of standards about recreational drug use. These new rules will get fantasy owners back Wes Welker this week and probably Josh Gordon at some point much to the joy of people like me who invest far too much time and money in fantasy football.
Finally, the league instituted policies making smoking weed less punishable than felonious assault. However, I think something far bigger and more important came out of the new drug-testing program: the NFL will finally test for human growth hormone.
In the early 2000s, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the organization responsible for drug testing Olympic athletes, created a test that detects if an athlete is using HGH. While the NFL cited HGH as a performance-enhancing drug, the league never adopted the test used by the world’s premiere drug-testing agency.
While baseball had a similar policy towards steroids, stating something was illegal without testing for the substance, there has been a noticeable lack of outcry about the NFL and its Players Association blatantly refusing to test for HGH until now. MLB created a culture where steroids could thrive, and they did. In the 90’s into the early 2000’s, almost everyone was on steroids. I would venture a guess that the NFL is in a similar situation as it regards to HGH.
You don’t believe me? Look at the testing policy. Testing begins immediately with bans of 6 games for testing positive for HGH or other banned performance-enhancing drugs. Seems fair until you read the fine print of 2 game suspensions for using a masking agent. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m sure the NFLPA fought hard for that part of the policy.
Think about it. These guys don’t have enough time to get clean if testing begins immediately, but losing two games is much better than losing six. After all this horrible news that came out this past week, there’s reason to question if the NFLPA could advocate masking agents to avoid a longer suspension.
I love the NFL. I’m a huge fan of the football team from Washington, but I’m as big of a baseball fan. That baseball fan is furious the NFL has escaped the outcry that baseball saw.
Yes, steroid use was rampant in baseball. It was obvious. Can’t the same be said for the NFL though? No man should weigh 275 pounds while being able to run a 4.8 forty. That goes against the laws of physics.
With the NFL making a concerted effort to improve player safety, this is the most important change the league has made. Football is an inherently violent game. Making players smaller will be more effective than any rule change in terms of protecting players.
It will be interesting to see how rampant HGH use is in the league. Regardless, the NFL finally got something right.