FOXBORO, Mass. — While the NFL and its Players Association play a rhetorical game of chicken over the implementation of testing for human growth hormone, players in the Patriots locker room are staying ready for whatever result surfaces.
Similar to the public-relations spin that occurred during the lockout, the NFL’s owners have said they’re ready for the testing to commence, a tactic that puts the players in a pressure-packed situation to publicly respond. But the players have said they want the testing circumstances to be appropriate, whatever that happens to mean.
This on-again, off-again game has played out since the resolution of the labor war. The latest episode happened Wednesday, when the league said it was ready to start blood testing next Monday, but the NFLPA said it was time to pump the brakes.
Patriots right guard Brian Waters, who is on the NFLPA’s executive board, knows as much about the situation as anyone in the locker room, but he didn’t want to turn it into a media war.
“I think it’s important to make sure that our game is as clean as possible, but I think you have to be very careful about how you get to that process,” Waters said. “So there’s a lot of discussion about the actual testing itself. Right now, I’m going to kind of let that play itself out the way it’s been playing itself out the behind closed doors hopefully.
“It’s best done as business partners. I think the NFL and the Players Association gets the best work done when they’re staying out of the media and not making this a political issue. Or nor not even a political issue, just making it something that kind of gets put out there and makes a media [take a] stance over. I think it’s best done when both sides get to the table, talk to each other and figure the best way out that both people are happy with. So I’m going to try to stay out of that as best as possible.”
The general consensus around the rest of the locker room was neutral. If the NFL begins testing for HGH, there’s nothing they can do about it. The players will abide by the procedures just like they do with steroid testing.
“I don’t really even have an opinion at all,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “I could really care less. They’re already doing all of the steroid testing and everything all the time. HGH testing, I mean, I really have no opinion. I could care less if they do it or not because I’m not worried one bit because I’m not on that stuff at all. Obviously, it will make the game look better, too, because it will just show that no one is on that stuff, either.”
Defensive lineman Andre Carter shared a similar sentiment.
“I really don’t have any opinion at all,” Carter said. “I’ve looked at it as an enhancement, and I know there’s a fine line. From what I’ve heard, HGH is supposedly supposed to help [injury] recovery. From what I’ve also heard, there’s kind of the legal standpoint, it’s kind of like that middle line. Usually with me, with my personality, if there’s something that’s in that middle line, I won’t take it. I’d rather be safe than sorry because you just don’t know. That’s how I look at it. That’s my opinion on it. I won’t take it. I wouldn’t mess with it.”