Tag:George Atallah
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:09 am
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NFL: Union 'stalling' on HGH; NFLPA wants clarity

By Will Brinson



The NFL was supposed to have Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing by the time the 2011 season kicked off, but a difference of opinion between the league and union on the transparency of testing remains a critical sticking point.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and NFLPA agreed only to "discuss and develop" -- not to actually implement -- a plan for HGH testing in the NFL. So even though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is prepared to begin testing, until the union approves the testing procedure, there's little the league can do outside of posture to make testing a reality.

The NFLPA wants to see the specifics of WADA's population studies as they relate to the organization's test. WADA believes their basic test for HGH is an acceptable standard already. And the NFL thinks the union is simply "stalling."

"There is no debate among the experts about the validity of the test," NFL VP of communications Greg Aiello told CBSSports.com Thursday. "The union is simply continuing to engage in stalling tactics."

The NFLPA's argument isn't against the validity of the test, however, but rather the transparency involved in creating the baseline standards for determining what players took HGH.

"Nobody knows what goes into the WADA standard of how they adjudicate players who have apparently or been told they take HGH," NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said recently at NFLPA headquarters. "So if we are going to go to a system where our guys are going to be measured against a standard we can't see and a standard that we can't challenge, if you were in my job would you recommend doing that? No."


Because HGH is a naturally occurring substance within the human body, testing whether or not an individual is using the hormone anabolically isn't as simple as drawing blood and detecting a presence of HGH. It exists in the bodies and blood of NFL fans as much as it does NFL players.

The issue at hand for the NFL and NFLPA, then, is determining what the baseline level of HGH in a "normal" football players is, and then using that to move forward in testing players. One problem -- WADA not only will not provide a separate population study for NFL players, but the organization believes the NFLPA's running with ulterior motives when it comes to roadblocking the test.

"The players are making a very good go of trying to say it is a problem by not agreeing to be tested. I would have thought if there wasn't a problem, they would say, 'Hey, test us,'" WADA director general David Howman said at a recent anti-doping conference. "If you've got nothing to hide, open up."

According to Smith, however, the players did offer to "open up," and test NFL players to create a separate population study by which to judge players who test positive.

"We said, fine, if you don't want to turn over that information, here's what we'll do," Smith said. "We will test the players themselves, create our own population study, where we can know it, we can see it and we can see the standard. And then after that we can see the standard and we will know whether or not that standard is applicable and we can ensure that standard is scientifically reliable."

WADA declined the NFLPA's offer, in part, because the organization believes its current test ("in operation since 2004" according to WADA's Senior Manager Media Relations and Communications Terence O'Rourke) provides an acceptable standard by which to measure the level of HGH in any athlete, including football players.

"Based on the concept of the test, there is no reason to believe that American footballers behave any differently than the tens of thousands of athletes being subject to this HGH test," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. "Please note that this individual information has no bearing on the validity of the test. That is why there is absolutely no point in conducting another sample study."

Complicating the problem is the appeals process for players who test positive for HGH. If the news is discovered (and/or the player is suspended), there's already a public backlash waiting to happen. And as we've seen with numerous instances of cycling over the past few years, positive tests can devolved into ugly he-said-type public-relations battles.

The good news is that there's an available remedy.

"Athletes do NOT appeal to WADA, they appeal either to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or, at national level, to a suitable independent and impartial body as outlined in Article 13.2.2 of the [World Anti-Doping Code]," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. (You can find the code here in .PDF format.)

If the parties involved were able to reach a comprimise on what might qualify as a "suitable independent and impartial body" there's a chance the implementation of HGH testing could be expedited.

But as we've seen with player discipline, finding an impartial group of people who don't have an opinion about the NFL one way or another is a pretty difficult thing to do.

So as it stands right now, there's little chance that the NFL sees HGH testing in the immediate future, with the 2011 season almost entirely off the table at this point.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:17 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: George Atallah + Thurs Preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Despite there being no lockout, the NFLPA's been under fire for a number of issues (a lack of HGH testing, the suspensions of some Redskins, Cedric Benson) and union spokesman George Atallah was kind enough to join the show in break down where the union stands on those issues.

We also discuss in depth some of the issues surrounding HGH testing and whether or not it's a viable option for 2011.

Then Ryan and Will break down the Thursday night matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, wondering if the Browns have any shot at all to upset the Steelers and if the trade that gave Atlanta Julio Jones (and the Browns Greg Little) is already a bust for Cleveland, and if Pittsburgh is the best team in the AFC.

The guys also break down Archie Manning's latest comments about Peyton and Andrew Luck and how they relate to the Colts future.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: August 4, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 8:00 pm
 

NFL players ratify new CBA: We have football

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After a brief scare Wednesday, when it appeared that the new collective bargaining agreement wouldn't be ratified on time, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reports that the players ratified the agreement with the owners as planned Thursday afternoon, which (theoretically) guarantees labor peace for the next decade.

"While Roger Goodell had some of his on-field control curtailed, a high ranking union official told me, he maintains his power over the personal conduct policy," Freeman wrote Thursday.

"Also, the two sides agreed to implement an [human growth hormone] testing policy making the NFL the first professional American sports league to test for HGH with union consent. It is expected that testing will begin once the season starts."

We mentioned previously that the league was on board with HGH testing even if NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said as recently as Tuesday that “The players have not agreed to any comprehensive drug testing proposal.”

Clearly, the two sides found middle ground.

In terms of what a ratified CBA means for actual football, those players who signed contracts on or after July 26 (and were subsequently forced to watch practices from the sidelines until the new league year officially began with the ratification), finally joined their teammates on the field Thursday afternoon.

Also worth noting: the Steelers voted "no" to CBA ratification "to make statement," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, and it wasn't a complete surprise. On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Scott Brown reported that "Steelers players, frustrated over the lack of movement on the NFL conduct policy, may not ratify" the CBA due to "several issues, including the latitude NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has in levying fines, which could not be negotiated until the players re-certified as a union."

The Steelers player representative, Ryan Clark, was outspoken on the matter Wednesday.

"A big issue for us is Roger Goodell having absolute control over the fines system, judge, jury and appeals," Clark said. "I think for a lot of teams it wouldn`t be as big a deal but for us it is. We`re the team that gets fined the most and we play a brand of football that, sometimes, subjects us to his opinion. That`s something that really hasn`t been talked about this. "For us, with Roger Goodell having total control over the fine process, that`s a deal breaker for us in that situation."

And if the CBA hadn't been ratified today? "The settlement of the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the owners would have been voided and the owners could have shuttered the league again," writes Bloomberg's Curtis Eichelberger.

So, yes, welcome back, football. We missed you.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 11:39 am
 

CBS Football Podcast: George Atallah talks labor

Posted by Will Brinson

The lockout just recently ended, but the labor side of things in the NFL isn't totally over just yet, as there are some issues that have to be handled (though they will be).

To discuss what's left for the NFL and the NFLPA in the coming days of collective bargaining and whatnot, we talked with NFLPA spokesman George Atallah. While we had him on the phone, we also discussed whether or not the NFLPA will fight the league if it tries to implement the personal conduct policy for people who violated it during the lockout, what the future holds for labor discussions, if free agents raking in cash is a sign that the players won, what he thinks of the NFL lockout movie we mocked up (he's seen it!), and what advice he'd give to the NBA players.

All that and much, much more just by hitting the play button below. Oh, and don't forget to Subscribe to iTunes.


If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.



Posted on: February 13, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Combine boycott unlikely, but 'momentum growing'?

Posted by Will Brinson

The idea that the NFLPA could generate a boycott of the NFL Combine is pretty far out there. An entire group of incoming NFL "freshmen" would have to get on board with stonewalling their future employers at a time when they are all seeking to get paid for the first (or in the case of Marvin Austin, second) time in their professional careers.

But Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that on the heels of some increasing tension and low-ball offers from the NFL, "momentum for some type of protest is growing" within the ranks of the players.

That hypothetical protest, which would need the approval of all agents representing players at the Combine, didn't draw a response from the NFLPA.

"Our conversations with contract advisers [agents] are confidential," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said.

And if it seems pretty unlikely that every single agent repping a player at the Combine could get on the same page, well, it is. However, consider that the NFL is (reportedly) offering the NFLPA a setup for a rookie wage scale that severely hampers the amount of money that NFL players will make.

Agents, of course, make their livings based on a percent of those NFL players' revenues -- if the salaries of all future NFL players are severely reduced, the salaries of all agents will also be severely reduced. So, there's absolutely some motivation present to incite the agents into convincing their clients not to attend the combine.

Still, it's unlikely to go down -- Cole spoke with numerous "top agents" who point out that it's just too difficult to pull off.

"You're talking about players who have been training for two months and now, all of a sudden, they’re all not going to work out? That's not happening," the agent said. "To me, it would be great if they would do it. If all the agents would agree, I would do it. But I just can't see all the agents and players going along with it. Not at this point."

And besides, if the NFLPA really wants to take a lethal shot at the league's PR, they should just wait until the NFL Draft.

While the folks who run the NFL Network would be incredibly incensed at having a ton of no-shows for the Combine, the reaction from ESPN executives if the top talent bailed on its three-day, high-profile event in late April would be even better. Not to mention a prime example of the serious problems the league could face from its top revenue sources (its broadcast partners) if a lockout continued into the season.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 3:26 pm
 

NFL says union 'creating economic fairy tales'

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone spent Thursday being full of thanks for the NFL. (The NFL also spent the day being thankful for its loyal constituents -- CBS boasted our highest ratings since 1998 thanks to a fantastic New England - Detroit matchup, FOX scored its best ratings in 15 years, and the NFL Network posted it's highest ratings ever.)

Seems Friday, though, was back to the grind of political attempts at rallying certain fans to either the owners or the players side. DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director, kicked things off in a Bloomberg News interview, calling the lockout a "14" on the likelihood-of-happening scale, which only goes to 10.

"The magnitude of the loss would be at the very least about $160 million to $170 million per team-city," Smith said. "That is a conservative estimate of the economic impact."

Naturally, the NFL disagrees -- NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello even called the numbers "economic fairy tales."

"It is a series of numbers pulled from thin air in a misguided attempt to inject politics into the collective bargaining process," Aiello said. "There is a fair deal to be done and soon if the union will bargain with the same fervor it displays in creating economic fairy tales."

The "soon" portion is what fans care about, but that won't stop either side from preaching the "poorer me" version of their story; George Atallah, NFLPA representative, joined Mike Florio as the guest host of the Dan Patrick Show on Friday and pleaded the players case.

"The question I have for owners is why do you keep telling the fans the players get 60 cents of each dollar when it's just not true," Atallah said.

But from the "please handle this right now, thanks!" category comes the news that Atallah said the union is committed to devoting two weeks in December to intense negotiations, and the league is open to discussions as well.

"We have told the union leaders that we will be available to meet almost any time and are working with them on scheduling our next sessions," Aiello said.

So, to sum up: football is really, really popular and makes everyone involved really, really, REALLY big piles of money. And yet, the two principle parties are so concerned with how to split the proverbial pie that they're not focusing on what's important -- getting in the kitchen and baking that sucker so that fans will pay to eat it come 2011.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com