Tag:Jeff Pash
Posted on: August 3, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 4:22 pm
 

NFL says it's closer to testing players for HGH

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Days before the players agreed to the new collective bargaining agreement, but after the owners had already voted to ratify their version of it, NFL attorney Jeff Pash told the New York Daily News that the league not only plans to institute random blood testing for human growth hormone during the 2011 season, but that the NFLPA fully supports it.

"We expect that we will have testing for HGH," Pash said on July 21. "I think that both sides believe that's important for the integrity of the game and that we should continue to be leaders here. I think that's a view that's strongly held by the players as it by us. "

On Tuesday, Judy Battista of the New York Times reported that "The NFL, whose new collective bargaining agreement is expected to be completed and ratified by Thursday, could begin blood testing for human growth hormone as soon as September, according to a person briefed on the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly, making it the first major North American sports league to conduct such testing on its top players with the union’s consent."

The potential bump in the road? Assuming that the new CBA will be completed and ratified by Thursday. CBSSports.com's Will Brinson wrote earlier Wednesday that some players "doubt" a CBA will be ratified in time, although CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman hears that there's nothing to worry about and everything is still on track.

The NFLPA has long opposed testing, citing concerns about reliability and calling the process "invasive," but Battista writes that both NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "have long seen a need for growth hormone testing and want to cast the NFL as a leader in combating drugs in major sports. … Details to be worked out include how many players will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs and how they would be randomly selected when drug testing resumes. There was no drug testing of any kind conducted during the lockout."

In July, Pash suggested that while there were some issues that needed to be ironed out, "we would hope that [testing] could be ramped up by the start of the season." On Tuesday, he sounded similarly encouraged, even if the testing is pushed back a few weeks. “I think both sides have a commitment to being leaders in this area and to having the best possible program and they recognize that having testing for growth hormone is part of having the best program."

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah, however, reiterated that “The players have not agreed to any comprehensive drug testing proposal,” although Freeman notes Wednesday that "One of the things the two sides have been doing is working on HGH testing. Once that is wrapped up the CBA will be finalized."

And then, hopefully, we won't have to hear the words "lockout" and "collective bargaining agreement" for at least a decade.

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Posted on: July 22, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Pash: HGH testing is coming, players support it

Posted by Ryan Wilson

There may not yet be an agreement between the owners and players on a new collective bargaining agreement, but NFL attorney Jeff Pash says that the league not only plans to institute random blood testing for human growth hormone during the 2011 season, but that the NFLPA fully supports it.

"We expect that we will have testing for HGH," Pash told the New York Daily News. "I think that both sides believe that's important for the integrity of the game and that we should continue to be leaders here. I think that's a view that's strongly held by the players as it by us.

"How soon can it happen?" Pash asked. "Some issues needed to be worked out. It will take some time to get that ramped up, but we would hope that it could be ramped up by the start of the season."

In the past, players have opposed blood tests. Former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said in 2006 that "It is invasive, and too many things can go wrong with this … You can call me back and tell me where you have a reliable test. A urine test. Then we'll have something to talk about. I'm not interested in turning my players into pin cushions."

And former NFL tight end Mark Breuner, during a 2010 interview with the Washington Postcalled the process "extremely invasive ... We have one of the most aggressive, productive drug-testing policies in all of sports. To go to that extreme, I'm not sure that's good for the health of an athlete."

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Pash was asked if he believes HGH is widespread among NFL players. "I'm not saying it is rampant in the league," he told the Daily News. "But what I am saying is we should be leaders in ensuring and doing everything we can to promote the integrity of the game and the health of the players, and they agree with that and we agree with that."

In March, FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez reported that Dr. Gary Wadler, who has worked closely with both the World Anti-Doping Agency and White House Office of Natural Drug Control Policy, applauded the NFL's decision to make HGH testing mandatory as part of its labor proposal to the NFLPA. Wadler also said any protests from athletes about the blood work required to conduct the test "border on the nonsensical."

"I'd be very disappointed if the NFL does not get in lock with the rest of the world -- and this goes for (Major League) baseball as well -- and employ blood testing," Wadler said at the time. "Any concerns the athletes have of a needle ... It's almost comical to think a 300-pound athlete is afraid of a little needle prick."

It appears that the NFLPA will not vote Friday on the new CBA, which means we'll have to wait at least one more day to find if, as Pash suggests, the players are on board with random blood tests for HGH.


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Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:40 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Atmosphere anything but festive at owners meeting

Goodell, SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

ATLANTA -- After the vote was tallied and a new CBA had been passed by the owners, a cheer went up inside the Marriott ballroom where the owners had spent the last nine hours of their day. After months of negotiating and another long day of discussing, arguing and compromising, the owners let off a little bit of steam that could be heard outside in the hallway.

A few minutes later, Roger Goodell, flanked by NFL attorney Jeff Pash, Carolina’s Jerry Richardson, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, New York Giants’ John Mara and Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney, entered the press conference room.

The mood, though, wasn’t quite as cheery.

There were no balloons -- or champagne corks -- popping. It didn’t feel like a day of celebration. It didn’t feel like things would be all right and that life would be good again. It felt a little apprehensive.

And for good reason. The NFLPA hasn’t signed off on the new CBA, and at first glance, the NFLPA doesn’t seem altogether happy with the new document. We might continue to find out just how unhappy the players actually are.

So, yeah, there weren’t a ton of smiles from the Gang of Six who stood behind the podium in front of the assembled media. If they thought this labor negotiation was completely finished, they might not be (probably aren’t) correct.

“They have a real incentive (to ratify)," Richardson said after the presser. "I can’t imagine why they’ve negotiated so hard, and they have received so many things they thought were important, I can’t imagine why they would not. Of course, there is (apprehension). But we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. We’ve done our half. It’s their choice now.”

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Those first two sentences from Richardson was a point made repeatedly Thursday. How, the owners reasoned, could the players NOT accept this deal?

“There are very substantial incentives to do so and to ratify and conclude the agreement,” Pash said. “It is a good agreement. It is a fair agreement. It is an agreement that will be very positive for players in many, many ways. … We would expect that those incentives would be responded to.

“I can’t imagine DeMaurice Smith is electing to pay all of those hours for his attorneys to negotiate an agreement that he and his members then decide not to ratify.”

Well, it looks like the decision to ratify might be rejected. If that occurs, we have another, perhaps larger set of problems that could jeopardize part -- or all -- of the 2011 season. Then, money is lost, paychecks aren’t cashed, fans aren’t happy.

Maybe, on Thursday after the owners voted 31-0 to pass the agreement, they knew the fight wasn’t over, and that’s why there were no fist pumps or fist bumps on display. Maybe, as Goodell said, the owners were simply exhausted from the negotiations.

Or maybe they knew something the players and the rest of us didn’t. The thing we’re only beginning to find out. That the hard part isn’t over yet; that there really was no reason to celebrate at all.

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 8:23 pm
 

Report: framework for new CBA could come Friday



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The lawyers for the owners and players met again Wednesday as they continue to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. And sources tell ESPN that both sides hope to reach a "true framework for a new CBA by the close of business Friday."

If there weren't already enough reasons to end the lockout as soon as possible (the reasons now number into the hundreds of millions), here's another: U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, ESPN reports. And after taking the July 4th weekend off, both sides are committed to staying in New York and working through the weekend if it means getting a deal done.

We have written previously that the lockout could end as early as Sunday, July 10.

For weeks, mid-July had been the cutoff to guarantee that no preseason games were lost, and that training camps would open on time. It would also allow for an abbreviated free-agency signing period.

More from NFL Network's Albert Breer, who appeared on Wednesday's Total Access:
I'm told that today was a very productive day of talks. The talks went right into Wednesday evening, a long day, and it's interesting some of the signs you see during the day watching what was going on. At two o'clock … one of the league's lawyers and the drug czar came in … at a about five o'clock, management counsel lawyers came into the room and they were going over a lot of clarifications and the details of the language of a potential deal. It looks like they've made progress here in finalizing some of the paperwork … that would go into a new collective bargaining agreement.

It doesn't mean that anything's done -- the bigger issues still need to be hashed out -- but what this does is set the stage for a deal when the bigger issues are worked out.
Breer added that "there's a chance this could get taken care of by the end of this week. I think [Thursday] is a very, very big day."

Some fans continue to be cautiously optimistic while others, understandably, are of the "we'll believe it when we see it" mindset. Given all that's happened in the previous four months, we can't blame them. Although we don't have tangible evidence of progress on the labor front, we're taking it as a good sign that the Cowboys have scheduled training camp and that the Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams is still a go.

If we're lucky, by the start of next week, the 2011 season will be officially underway and we can get back to worrying about the truly important stuff. Like how many games the Panthers will lose, or which team will actually take a chance on Tiki Barber

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 10:24 am
 

Tuesday meeting to update owners on negotiations



Posted by Ryan Wilson

As planned, the NFL owners are meeting Tuesday in Chicago. Hopefully that means actual football won't be far behind. The league and the players have spent much of June working through the details of a new collective bargaining agreement, although there hasn't been a resolution.  

As for what's on the agenda in the Windy City, NFL Network's Albert Breer has the details.

"Tuesday's meeting was originally scheduled as a one-day session, but clubs were advised last week to be prepared for the proceedings to spill into Wednesday," Breer writes. "No formal votes are scheduled for the meetings, with the labor committee and [Roger] Goodell having completed three sets of clandestine negotiations with the players."

"We're giving the clubs a briefing on the status of the labor discussions," NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told NFL Network. "And we'll allow them to ask any questions, give them a legal update on the status of the various court actions, and just make sure they fully understand everything that's happened over the last month and make sure they're fully informed as we proceed through the end of this month and into July."

Mid-July had been identified as the likely timeframe for both sides to reach an agreement on a new CBA, but there have been setbacks. Last week, an ESPN report suggested some owners were resistant to a new deal because they feared it didn't address the concerns that led to the lockout in the first place -- namely, the owner's unhappiness with the 2006 CBA.

Also not helping: CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman is reporting that some owners have contacted their star players, telling them that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is leading them in the wrong direction. The NFL, of course, prohibits communication between teams and players during the lockout.

Sounds like a job for the commissioner, as well as Robert Kraft and John Mara, two of the most well-respected owners in the league.

The Chicago attendees include Goodell, Pash, outside counsel Bob Batterman, labor committee co-chairmen Jerry Richardson and Pat Bowlen, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Giants owner John Mara, Bengals owner Mike Brown, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Steelers president Art Rooney, Chargers president Dean Spanos and Packers CEO Mark Murphy.

As PFT.com's Mike Florio notes, Kraft's not on the list but he should be.

For now, all we can do is wait.

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Posted on: June 17, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 10:22 am
 

Report: Some owners resistant to new labor deal



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We first saw signs of progress towards a new labor deal early this month when CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that "there is still a great deal of work to do ... but it appears the owners and players have made significant headway in reaching a new labor agreement, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions."

Save the lone report that talks almost "blew up," the subsequent news has been just as encouraging … until Friday.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, some owners are resisting the labor deal they've spent recent weeks negotiating with the players in the hopes of ending the lockout.

"A handful of NFL owners -- at least two of which are from AFC teams -- believe the parameters of the deal being discussed don't adequately address the original issues the league wanted corrected from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, according to sources," said Schefter.

"It is one of the primary reasons team officials are being prepped to stay an extra night in Chicago at Tuesday's owners meetings. It's not to potentially vote on a new collective bargaining agreement, as many suspected; it actually is to try to fend off some of the resistance that is mounting from a handful of NFL owners, according to sources."

Schefter also notes: "The surprise is that many thought this kind of pushback to a deal would occur within the player ranks, not among NFL owners."

We're not prepared to call it a setback yet; the owners will still meet in Chicago next week, and progress towards ending the lockout can continue. But this month has given fans, for the first time all spring, hope for actual football. If a subset of owners drag their feet, delaying the season, the PR backlash will be swift and unforgiving. Remember when fans booed Roger Goodell to start the NFL Draft? We'll look back on that and consider it cute.

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio doesn't think it will come to that. "The reality is that, in the end, a handful of owners have no power to derail a deal. A new agreement still can be approved with 24 of 32 votes. (Apparently, there’s a belief in some circles that the committee negotiating the CBA already has the authority to do a deal without further approval. Multiple sources have advised us that any proposal still must be approved by 75 percent of the owners.)"

In the end, this is about money. That's no secret. But unlike most high-level negotiations involving billions of dollars, this is played out on a public stage. There are financial concerns, certainly, but just like politicians running for (or trying to stay in) office, owners have to answer to their constituents.

There's still time to come to a resolution, though. "One NFL executive has been urging the league for weeks that, in order for the full preseason schedule to be played, an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA would have to occur no later than July 14," Schefter said.

And while the owners and players are closer than ever to agreeing to a new CBA, some owners remember the previous negotiations in 2006 that favored the players and ultimately led us to this point. Which, as far as fans are concerned, can be boiled down to rich people fighting over how to split the winnings.

That's not entirely accurate, but it's the perception. And sometimes, perception trumps reality.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 7:41 pm
 

2-day talks end; owners, players 'moving forward'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The week started on a high note, and for the first time all spring the promise of a 2011 season not only seemed possible, but imminent. More than that, the acrimony between owners and players (and the lawyers that represented them), palpable for most of the lockout, suddenly melted away. Not to overdramatize the past few days, but hope is a powerful emotion, particularly for fans who live and die with their NFL teams.

The recent secret meetings between the two sides was almost simultaneously described as "heading in the right direction" and nearly "blowing up." The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle (though the optimist in us likes to think a new deal is "80-85 percent complete").

For now, however, owners and players will retire to their respective corners to reevaluate what just transpired and regroup for future get-togethers. (Note to interested parties: give the lawyers the wrong address for the next round of meetings. Trust us, it's for the best.)

As for the just-concluded two-day talks, NFL.com's Albert Breer writes that "According to sources, the talks remain productive and are moving forward, though a resolution to the three-month-old lockout is not on the immediate horizon.

"Both sides have evaluated and strongly considered the concessions and compromises that could ultimately lead to the problem being solved, though, and sources indicated an agreement could come within a month."

The sides also released a joint statement Wednesday, and promised to keep the media out of the proceedings. Their statement:

“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”

Next up for the owners: a June 21 meeting outside Chicago. The meeting is scheduled for one day but could drag on longer as both sides presumably work toward a deal.

The players, meanwhile, will continue to workout -- both informally and on their own -- with renewed hopes for an NFL season.

"Probably a sense of urgency with the season just around the corner," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday. "The general understanding from everybody is that if we don't have something done by July it would be hard to start on time."

Well, no time like the present, fellas.

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Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 6:59 pm
 

What the NFL, NFLPA should NOT do

GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you missed it, CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that negotiations between the players and the owners to end the lockout and establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement are 80-85 percent complete.

Which means that confidence is at an all-time high that a new CBA will be struck sooner rather than later and the NFL season will begin on time.

As Freeman writes, “That doesn't mean the negotiations can't revert back to the primordial days of disgust and hatred, or that the talks can't implode. It does mean, however, that the discussions are in such a good place it would be difficult for even the most selfish, destructive personality to affect them.”

And as one source told him, “It's going to be very difficult for this to get screwed up.”

That said, here are three ways the negotiations can, in fact, be screwed up (not that I’m hoping for this to happen).

Let the lawyers back in for major negotiations: It’s funny, isn’t it? When the attorneys for both sides aren’t in the negotiating room, significant progress is made. Three weeks ago, the pessimism about a new CBA was extremely high. I’m not saying the attorneys are solely to blame. But Jeff Pash for the NFL and Jeffrey Kessler for the NFLPA didn’t help matters. Not only did the attorneys make life more difficult for everyone at the negotiating table, but the owners didn’t trust Kessler and the players didn’t trust Pash. Three weeks ago, there seemed little reason to hope. But after secret meetings in Chicago (without lawyers present), followed by more meetings in New York last week (without lawyers) and more talks this week (with lawyers), all of a sudden, it seems like we’re very close to ending our long national nightmare. All of a sudden, we get real optimism. Obviously, the lawyers will need to be in the room at some point in order to help write the CBA – and reports said they were in there today – but if they can stay out of the major negotiating points (and it sounds like they have), that would be a big help.

DeMaurice SmithLet the combatants open their mouths: When Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith (or any of the lawyers, as mentioned above) start popping off to the media, phrases get highlighted. Like when Smith congratulated the NFL for being the first sports league to sue to stop games from being played (not entirely true) or when the NFL kept sending letters to players to get the union back together and to negotiate even after the NFLPA had disbanded (not entirely helpful). Those words and actions simply don’t help the cause. As a member of the media, I hate it when there’s some kind of blackout where a group of people are not speaking with the press. But in this case, I think we’ll all take it if it means a deal is struck between the two sides and no football is missed and non-football personnel can get back to work with salaries fully implemented.

Let the court system make the decision: Maybe Goodell was right after all. He’s been saying all along that a new CBA would be generated at the negotiating table and not in the courtroom. And maybe the NFLPA chose not to believe him, because, historically, the courts have sided with the players. But when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a permanent stay in order to keep the lockout in place, it was a major blow for the players. And when Appeals Court judge Kermit Bye told both sides they’d be better off solving the labor situation themselves, maybe both sides saw his point. Yes, the players might have been more desperate after the court ruling (especially when you saw how much the Appeals Court questioned the District Court’s decision), but the owners also seem ready for this storm to slip out to sea.
As is just about everybody else in the free world. Here’s hoping somebody doesn’t screw this thing up.

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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