Goodell Blew It Again
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In the official press release announcing the StarCaps suspensions, the NFL noted that its Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances has always stated that whatever "supplements" players put in their bodies, the players do so at their own risk. The release also stated that Balanced Health Products, the manufacturer of StarCaps, was listed among the makers of prohibited dietary substances in two different memos distributed to all teams in December of 2006. There have since been questions as to whether specific warnings about the use of StarCaps should have been issued. The release stated that "the policy does not set forth an obligation to issue specific warnings about specific products and no testimony suggests that the NFL and NFLPA have ever contemplated imposing such a requirement"
And that's where I have a problem with the suspensions. Players are going to use diuretics, whether it's to help make weight limits or to mask this or that "supplement", and the NFL has an equal responsibility to educate, warn, and inform, as it does to exact discipline. If the NFL does not have a specific policy to issue specific warnings about specific products, and it's going to enforce a policy that can impact the careers and reputations of its players, that needs to be changed immediately. This needs to be transparent -- the NFL must be able to say without fear of contradiction that any substance which could lead to any disciplinary action has been pointed out as a banned substance.
In a December 2 conference call with the national football media, Adolpho Birch, the league's Vice President of Law & Labor Policy, said that a specific warning was sent out about StarCaps, contradicting the original statement. In answering a question about player weight clauses that may encourage the use of diuretics, Birch merely said that "The majority (of agreements) certainly spell out that things such as last-minute tactics like steam room use or things like the use of diuretics are not permitted in order to do that." Well, sure, they're not supposed to, but that's not the question. Are they, and if they are, why isn't the league stopping them from doing it?
Someone needs to get on the same page with someone else here. The NFL has two branches -- law and medicine -- that are seemingly not communicating. That there are now potentially successful suspension appeals by players, and questions as to what warnings were sent or not sent when and to whom, tells me that a more exacting policy must be enforced within the NFL's own headquarters when it comes to player education and protection regarding what they should and should not put in their bodies.
It is my opinion that Roger Goodell's NFL has been marked by uneven discipline and shifting standards, and I believe this is another example of a quick gavel coming down before everyone involved had their stuff together.
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Posted by: Bill Rogers | December 4, 2008 11:33 PM
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