Sports

Union head takes on NFL on player safety issues

Smith
Smith

NEW ORLEANS – So much for labor peace in the NFL.

Less than 18 months after the league and players ended a lockout by signing a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth used a Super Bowl news conference to lay out a series of complaints about safety issues Thursday.

Smith began by threatening to file a grievance if the NFL refuses to institute a system to verify the credentials of all medical personnel on the 32 teams. Also, he called the NFL’s lockout of its officials at the start of this season “one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.”

The union has been pressing the NFL to put independent neurological consultants on sidelines during games to help diagnose and treat con- cussions, something league general counsel Jeff Pash announced at a news conference earlier Thursday he expects to begin next season.

Still unresolved, too, is implementing blood tests for human growth hormone, something the CBA paved the way for but has not yet started. Pash said the league recently made a new proposal to the union that he thinks will lead to HGH testing next season.

But Smith disputed that, saying the league still will not agree to the sort of independent arbitrator that Major League Baseball’s drug-testing program has.



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